Sarah Murphy may not be going into the family business – Murphy Industries of Marion, who has been in business for over 40 years, but she uses some of their discarded materials in her work. Her work is jewelry design and making, with some of her stunning pieces recently being published in several issues of British Vogue and Vanity Fair.
Sarah and her family moved to Marion during her middle school years and she attended River Valley High School. Art was always her favorite subject in school. Unfortunately, at the time when she was in school, art was not offered, which was devastating to her. But as Sarah shared, “I was lucky to have had a great guidance counselor that helped me enroll in some online art and fashion design classes at that time.”
Sarah is a recent graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), with degrees in Fashion Merchandising and M.F.A. in Jewelry. She became involved in jewelry making during her freshman year of college. Thinking she would design handbags; she took on an Accessory Design minor. But that all changed after her first jewelry class. She enjoyed learning about all the different ways to manipulate metal and how to incorporate alternative materials into her designs.
She explained how her pieces differ from most jewelry designers. “They strive for perfection
while working with precious materials and I pretty much do the exact opposite. My jewelry is about celebrating the imperfections that come from working with the hand and I use discarded plastic that I collect from my family’s manufacturing plant in Marion as my “gem” elements.”
Sarah’s work is constantly changing and evolving. Two years ago, the jewelry she produced was all black and white. Today she is crazy about color. Murphy loves to experiment with new materials and coming up with new techniques. Sarah believes that jewelry is not a precious object due to its material value, but rather due to the invisible narrative connected to it. She has a series called Remembrance. In this series, she used materials to represent the places she loves. Two of the pieces represented places she loved visiting while living in Savannah, GA including a bracelet created from leaves from Forsyth Park and a bracelet made of shells from Tybee Island. The popcorn kernel necklace is a reminder of her hometown Marion, Ohio and is created to represent the annual Popcorn Festival.
Her current body of work’s inspiration is Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken vessels with gold adhesive. Sarah loves the idea of a broken object being more beautiful than the original. She has reinterpreted that idea through the act of first destroying the material (melting the silver and plastic elements) and then rebuilding them into beautiful pieces of jewelry.
Sarah Murphy’s jewelry has been exhibited in galleries around the country and at different shows including NYC Jewelry Week, The Smithsonian Craft Show, The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, and more. This is on top of the magazine pieces and on her website.
She has recently moved to New York City to continue her jewelry design work. In her future, Sarah plans on expanding her current collection with a wider product line and new one-of-a-kind pieces. In the future, she would love to get into teaching to pass on her knowledge and passion for jewelry design.
Several of Sarah Murphy’s family members still live in Marion, including her parents. She visits whenever she gets a chance. Some of her favorite memories of Marion is was from high school when she helped to start the girls’ soccer team at River Valley and cheering on the Vikings with a great group of friends. It will be interesting to see where Sarah Murphy’s amazing artwork takes this MarionMade! artist.