When Anna Murphy sits down to create a piece of art, she has two goals in mind — to inspire and uplift those who view it.
Murphy, a 2007 graduate of Frankfort High School who now lives in Chicago, painted the mural “Beautiful and Brave” on the wall outside of Bourbon on Main, 103 W. Main St., in the fall of 2019.
“The concept for this mural is inspired by what I think the world needs most right now, and that is unity,” Anna said. “It is about the unity between mankind, Mother Earth and the Animal Kingdom. It celebrates nature’s beauty and the all-encompassing divine love that connects us all.”
With a glowing gold background reflecting the riches and beauty of the world, the mural includes symbols of resourcefulness (fox), courage (tiger) and community (bees), Anna said. The mural also features a woman’s face — not a representation of an actual person.
The mural is one of three murals to go up in Downtown Frankfort following international calls by the Franklin County Arts Council, also known as FrankArts, for murals and sculptures to beautify the area. The installation of the works is collectively called Arts Downtown.
Anna created the mural with help from her mother, Paula, who is also an artist.
“My mom is one of the most creative people I know,” Anna said. “She has taught me through her example not only to be creative in every aspect of my life, but also that life itself is one big beautiful art piece, and making something beautiful out of every opportunity is what life is all about.”
Anna’s love for art began as a child with her parents — Paula and Shaun Murphy — encouraging her to be creative. But, it wasn’t until her junior year in high school that she discovered the power of creating something out of nothing.
“I started drawing portraits in the beginning as a way to quiet my mind, as a sort of meditative tool,” she said. “I quickly fell in love with the feeling of having a blank page and creating a three dimensional image that looked like it could come to life and walk right off the page.
“This feeling of creating something from nothing, felt like magic to me, and it still does.”
Anna said creating art for her is like entering an expansion of the universe and creating an extension of herself.
“For me, it is the most satisfying and wonderful feeling,” she said. “I once heard creating art is ‘the soul’s way of breathing,’ and this always felt true for me. After experiencing this, I have never once questioned that creating art is exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
After graduating high school, Anna earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from the University of Louisville. She received the Winthrop Allen Memorial Scholarship for the most outstanding graduating senior in 2D studios.
After graduation in 2011, she received a Kentucky Foundation for Women Artist Enrichment Grant and lived in Louisville for an additional year, while honing on her craft and creating new work.
Toward the end of 2012, she moved to Chicago for a fresh start and a new adventure, she said.
“I knew it would be a wonderful place to pursue a career in the arts, as it is bursting with creative energy and opportunities,” Anna said.
Within a week or two of moving, she landed a job as a creative assistant for internationally known artist, Carlos Rolon (Dzine). She traveled nationally and internationally creating and installing artwork for Dzine on a world stage level.
“It was an incredible learning experience, and a priceless introduction into the art world.”
During her work with Dzine, she met her fiancée, Hector Gonzalez, who is also an artist.
“He has helped me to grow artistically and personally in so many ways,” she said.
After a couple of years of working with Dzine, Anna was ready to go out on her own and decided to focus all of her energy on creating her own work.
“I rented a studio space just down the hall from where I had been working for Dzine, and felt lucky to already have an artist community of friends and colleges around me in our studio building called the Cermak Center.”
For the next couple of years, Anna worked on her craft — creating new art and showing in galleries in the surrounding area. She also co-led an outdoor mural program for teens for the After School Matters program on the south side of Chicago. She also had a three-year teaching residency at the Soho House Chicago.
In 2016, she started creating public art in spaces across Chicago.
“I realized that not only did public murals give me a much larger canvas, but also a much larger audience,” Anna said. “It also was a wonderful way to share my talents with people who may not usually be interested in viewing or appreciating art.”
Not too long ago, she received a message from someone she didn’t know about her mural on the side of Bourbon on Main. It said: “You moved me mentally, emotionally and spiritually. For the first time in my 50 years of life, I truly appreciated art. Thank you.”
“This message means so much to me,” Anna said. “I’m so glad that I was able to bring this experience to someone.”
Anna has been named one of the top 10 Chicago Artists to look out for in 2020 by Artist Replete. She plans to continue working on a large scale as a mural artist. She said she would even be interested in painting another mural in Frankfort, given the opportunity.
“Coming back to paint a mural in Frankfort was so special to me,” she said. “I was able to give back to the community that made me who I am today and where I had the most wonderful time growing up on the Kentucky River in downtown Frankfort.
“To leave a piece of my heart here for many years to come will always mean so much to me.”
To young artist, Anna advising them to work hard and spend a lot of time refining their skills.
“It is important to always focus on pleasing yourself with your work, not others,” she said. “Follow your own instincts and learn to trust yourself, and make work the things that are most important to you.”
Anna is planning to have a show at The Grand Gallery located in the Grand Theatre. The date is yet to be determined.
Follow Anna on Instagram @annapmurphy and check out her work on her website, annapmurphy.com.