Zora J. Murff
Zora J Murff is an Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Arkansas. He received his MFA in studio art from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln and holds a BS in psychology from Iowa State University. Murff uses photography as a way to explore histories of American systems, and the role imagery plays in shaping our belief in them.
In 2019, Murff was an Aperture Portfolio Prize finalist, selected as a Light Work Artist-in-Residence, and named an honoree for PDN’s 30: New & Emerging Photographers to Watch. He has published books with Aint-Bad Editions and Kris Graves Projects. His most recent publication, At No Point In Between (Dais Books), was selected as the winner of the Independently Published category for the Lucie Foundation Photo Book Awards. Murff is also a Co-Curator of Strange Fire Collective, a group of interdisciplinary artists, writers, and curators working to promote and construct an archive of artwork created by women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals.
Murff’s work is exhibited throughout the United States and published by literary clients including The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, ProPublica, Topic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian and Harper’s Magazine.
About the Work
In 1925, Alain Locke edited the anthology “The New Negro: An Interpretation.” The publication is a treatise on novel visions for Black American identity, reflecting how paradigm shifts are represented visually in culture. It was through those new self representations— and the proliferation of printed media—that we were able to further decenter the understanding of blackness through whiteness. Using “The New Negro” as a referent, “American Mother, American Father”, brings together the themes of paternalism, patriotism, nostalgia, and existentialism to create a cultural mirror for self-critique. This collection of images is the result of me questioning my own “Americanness” at a time I feel it is crucial to challenge the established ideas of Americanism.
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