InSITE 2020 Artist Profile: Jenny Murphy

Jenny Murphy is a St. Louis-based artist and founder of Perennial, a nonprofit community workshop with a mission to build a creative culture of sustainability in which discarded items are transformed into valued and cherished resources.

As one of the five projects chosen for InSITE 2020, Murphy will bring her whimsical talent to Downtown St. Louis by transforming three storefront windows into illustrative murals to depict a new kind of store: “The Department Co.” These murals will serve as the backdrop for pop-up events in which Murphy, along with “The Department Co.’s” mobile merchant cart, will engage pedestrians in unique activities creating functional items from reclaimed materials.

“I’m on a nonstop investigation of America’s culture of careless consumption and waste,” Murphy said. “Through these interactions and further digital engagement, my pieces aim to shed light on a future in which community members play an active role in defining and creating sustainable culture in St. Louis.”

Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, St. Louis, May 21 – June 25, 2016: A functional workshop and general store, ‘”Paper” Goods Company’ invited visitors to become temporary employees in the production of reusable “paper” towels created from salvaged fabrics.

Murphy continues to propose sustainable, educational and thought-provoking solutions that speak to the negative effects of mass consumption on our environment and our communities through a broad artistic practice. Her work has been featured in venues around the St. Louis region, including the Center of Creative Arts (COCA); the St. Louis Artist’s Guild; the Des Lee Gallery; and Fort Gondo.

Jenny holds a BFA with a focus in sculpture from The Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art at Washington University. She is a 2011 RAC Community Arts Training fellow and is a current faculty member for the Community Arts Training program. She has lectured extensively on and received numerous accolades for her innovative work at Perennial – including the Riverfront Time’s Mastermind Award; the Skandalaris Center’s Youthbridge Social Enterprise and Innovation prize; Alive Magazine’s Buzz List and more.

COCA’s Millstone Gallery, St. Louis, June 15 – August 28, 2015: GOODS encouraged viewers to rethink, reuse, and go shopping, in a site-specific installation where nothing was for sale and ideas were free.

From clothing swaps to buy-nothing groups to time-banking, Murphy finds inspiration through the myriad of community work being done to build alternative economies in St. Louis. When she’s not making, teaching folks to create or reading about community economies, you’ll most likely find her building projects for her house, gardening, or playing games with her family.

Visit jenny-murphy.com to learn more about her work. To discover more about Perennial, visit perennialstl.org.

(Photos courtesy of Jenny Murphy)


InSITE 2020 is a temporary public art exhibition designed to enhance Downtown St. Louis. It was developed by The Downtown STL Public Art Initiative, a partnership between the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis (RAC), Explore St. Louis and Downtown STL, Inc.