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WD Spotlight: Thérèse Murdza

One of the best things about having our office here in the Ford Building is that we are surrounded by so many cool creative people. We are so honored and lucky to work just one floor up from one of our favorite artists, Thérèse Murdza!

What is your background? How long have you been working as a professional artist?

At three years old, my music teacher dad put a small accordion in my hands and taught me to play. I then studied piano and saxophone while growing up, and jazz and music theory at a Maryland public high school. In college near Baltimore, I studied theater performance, learning new forms of materializing sounds in transitory space. I acted, directed, and wrote experimental plays. After graduation, I distilled my writing further into poetry and prose, in search of the precise moments of emotion and of contact. Not narrating the beginnings and ends, but middles; the being in the middle of things.

Years spent living up and down the east coast had me drawing on big paper and literally taking the words apart. Disintegrating the shapes of the words into lines, circles, squares and color. Seeing music, hearing words, somehow marking sound in charcoal, ink, pencil, and then: paint.

Since 2000, I've worked almost exclusively on hand-stretched canvases, in turns building large, sometimes multi-paneled works on canvas, and smaller works on canvas and paper. From my studio in Portland, Oregon, I partner with gallerists, design professionals, and private collectors to place my commissions and regular series paintings nationwide and beyond.

What inspires you? For the pieces in the Laurelhurst Basement project, what was the inspiration behind them?

The world inspires me! And how we humans create it and move within it and outside it. The Laurelhurst Basement pieces were chosen from two different collections. ‘KISS SLOW’ is part of a new collection of paintings that offer up the play and power of 4-letter words – from ‘bad’ words to ‘good’ words to the phenom of knuckle tattoos. The other piece is from an ongoing series of abstract landscapes inspired by the phenomenal beauty of the Pacific Northwest. 

I'm interested in closely [en]countering the cynic and the closed-hearted -- how to stay earnest and tender in the midst of so much suffering in the world, locally and globally. To allow ourselves to be continually touched by life -- by beauty and whimsy and bright color. With real props to artists who remind and show us the world is burning, my work reminds us the world is also turning and here we are alive together. Inspiration on steady. 

Who/what are your biggest influences?

People who generously offer their lives to inspire and sustain others. Musicians. Poets. Architects, designers and engineers. Artists. Gardeners. Seers. Singers. Dancers. Mystics. Lovers. Queers. People who find a way to make something from nothing and heartbreak. People with whom I can think and feel and talk and touch deeply. Also: Food. Fashion. Flowers. Forests. Fungi. Physics. Stardust. Pleasure. Joy.

What is your process for creating?

I trust The River. I know from practice that it is always available. Enter the stream. Make. Edit. Make. Edit. Make. Edit. Share. 

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

Light. Light! 

Anything else I'm missing that you would love to share?

Portland’s beloved Artslandia organization has been very active online during this Age of Covid, reminding us all of the power of The Arts. Find them daily on all the socials and stay inspired! I’m honored to be their cover artist for Artslandia: Portland’s Performing Arts Annual 2019-20. Misty Tompoles, Artslandia founder and publisher, took notice of my work years ago. "Her large-format paintings are hard to miss. At once stimulating and calming, their allure is irresistible." 

Listen to my Artslandia interview: 

Read cover article feature online:

Where can people find your work?

My studio in the Ford Building in SE Portland is not currently open for in-person visitors but! virtual studio visits have always been a wonderful part of my practice -- more so now than ever. I am happy to guide people through the commission process (i love doing custom work) or show them works that already available. Just drop me a note at or DM me on Instagram @tmurdza.studioart. A curated and evolving selection of small works is also available online on my Small Works Shop (link on my website US and International shipping is available for large and small works. No contact delivery is available in the Portland area. I so look forward to meeting your readers and fans!

instagram: @tmurdza.studioart

facebook: Thérèse Murdza

purchase small works:

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