Artist duo shares collaboration award

Artists Nori Thorne and John Murphy received the People’s Choice Award for their paired works during the Double Vision art showcase at the Cottonwood Community Clubhouse on Nov. 11 and 12. 

The show was a collaborative project that paired visual artists with photographers for the visual artists to create works of art inspired by the photographers’ images. The show’s name, “Double Vision,” referred to the first vision of the photographer who composed and processed an image and the second, or double, vision of the artist who interpreted that image. 

Artists were given access to a photographer’s selection of images using an online portfolio and chose an image to reinterpret. They could recreate it in another medium, or create something else entirely. They could change the color palette, focus on one element of the image or add or remove elements. Or, they could produce artwork inspired by the feeling the image gave them. 

During the show, the source photographs were displayed alongside the works of art derived from them for attendees to compare and contrast. Attendees voted for their favorite pairs of works, and artist Thorne and photographer Murphy won the People’s Choice Award for the combination of Murphy’s photograph “Sisters Sharing a Secret” and Thorne’s pastel “Fancy Dance Strategies.” 

“Sisters Sharing a Secret” by John Murphy

Murphy has been doing photography since the 1950s, and became active with it in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the advent of digital photography. His subjects range from landscapes to macro images, and he has recently been experimenting with infrared photography. 

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His photograph was taken at the Heard Museum in Phoenix during a day of special presentations. While he typically shoots in color, he made the image monochrome for this show, which he said accentuated the expressions of the two girls in the photograph, as the original is overwhelming given the many colors of their regalia. 

Thorne is primarily a pastel artist and the current president of the Arizona Pastel Arts Association. After joining El Valle Artists Association, she happened to sit next to Murphy at her first meeting. He shared his images with her and she said that “Sisters Sharing a Secret” stopped her in her tracks. 

“It was these two young Native American girls in full dance regalia whispering to each other and strategizing about their next dance,” Thorne said. “I loved the composition and the color but most of all the story.” 

Thorne said that pairing the photograph in black and white with her brightly-colored pastel piece really exemplified the theme of the show. 

“It [collaboration] was really a stretch for me,” Thorne said. “It was alien, because in most shows that I enter, you can’t use somebody else’s photograph even with permission. Using his photograph was almost like looking through somebody else’s eyes.” 

“I do think it’s really important to share ideas and experiences with other artists because we learn so much from each other,” Thorne added. “I really enjoyed seeing how the other artists interpreted the photographs.” 

Murphy had also not collaborated in this way before. He said that photography, especially landscape photography, can be lonely as the photographer is often working solo. 

“Working with other people gives you an opportunity to see their view of things along with your view of things and that sometimes makes for better photography,” Murphy said. “My approach to photography is that it does not end with a capture. It ends with possibly a manipulation of the image in whatever way tells a story or hopefully conveys to the viewer what I saw and what I felt when I activated the shutter.” 

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