MFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Post Graduate Studies, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

St. Mary’s College, BFA, Notre Dame, IN

Selected Solo Exhibitions

Page Bond Gallery, Nancy Murphy Spicer: Works on Paper, Richmond, VA

RaumX London, more than momentary: ENJOY, London, UK
Carroll and Sons, Disrupted Drawings, Boston, MA

18m Galerie, The Shapes in this Place, Berlin, Germany
Carroll and Sons, Biking in Berlin, Boston, MA

RoosArts, re:location, Rosendale, NY
University of Maine Museum of Art, Hanging Drawing Shapes, Bangor, ME

Bernard Toale Gallery, Provisional, Boston, MA, September
Boston Drawing Project, Bernard Toale Gallery, Poured Tape Drawings, Boston, MA,

Bernard Toale Gallery, Cardboard Actions, Boston, MA, 2006

Art Complex Museum, Nancy Murphy Spicer, Duxbury, MA, 2004
Boston Drawing Project, Bernard Toale Gallery, Nancy Murphy Spicer: New Drawings, Boston, MA

Selected Group Exhibitions
Studio Voltaire Open Studios, SHOP, London, UK, 2016

Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts, Feelers: Boston Drawing Show, Boston, MA,
University of New Hampshire Museum of Art, The Physicality of Color, Durham, NH,

Salve Regina University, Locating Place, Newport, RI
Wimbledon College of Art, Thinking Through Drawing, interdisciplinary symposium, London, UK
Spike Island Test Space, Bristol Diving School Curatorial Exercise #1, Bristol, UK, 2012

Chapter, Ubersong, Cardiff, Wales, 2011, (performance), curated by Yvonne Buchheim

Roos Arts, Mark Paper Scissors, Rosendale, New York, 2010, curated by Heige Kim
Boston University, 808 Gallery, Traces and Places, Boston, MA, curated by Lynne Cooney
Brattleboro Museum, Drawing Itself: A Survey of Contemporary Practice, Brattleboro, VT

VIVID, The Act of Drawing, Birmingham, UK

Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Anonymous Drawings #9, Berlin, Germany
Montserrat College of Art, Many Kinds of Nothing: Buddhist Spirit in Contemporary Art, Beverly, MA

Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts, 20th Boston Drawing Show, Boston, MA

Memphis College of Art, Seamless, Memphis, TN
Tufts University, Tufts First Annual, Medford, MA
Fitchburg Art Museum, New England/New Talent, Fitchburg, MA

Select Bibliography
New American Paintings Blog, July, 2015, Nancy Murphy Spicer’s Disrupted Drawings,Shanna Dumont Garr
Boston Globe, Boston, MA, July 28, 2015, Depictions and Disruptions, Cate McQuaid
Art New England, March/April 2015, The Physicality of Color, Christopher Volpe

Boston Globe, Boston, MA, April 17, 2014, Inspired by Details of a Place, Cate McQuaid
Boston Globe, August 8, 2012, Reimagining an urban landscape, Cate McQuaid

Zitty Berlin, Der Tagesspiegel, July 27, 2012, Tagestipps
Biking in Berlin catalog, June 2012, essay by Karin Lelonek,
Boston Globe Magazine, June 17, 2012, 10 contemporary works to see now

Boston Globe, December 24, 2008, Top Ten Shows of 2008, Cate McQuaid
Boston Globe, October 25, 2008,
Many Kinds of Nothing catalog, Montserrat College of Art Gallery, October 2008

2007, Drawing the Line at Mills Gallery, David Avruch
Boston Globe, Drawing show works around the edges, Cate McQuaid, Nancy Murphy Spicer at Bernard Toale Gallery, Megan McMillan,

Art Papers, January/February 2005, Review of ‘Seamless’, David Hall

Memphis Commercial Appeal,  ‘Seamless’ a model of beauty, Frederic Koeppel
Seamless brochure, Memphis College of Art, 2004, essay by Cynthia Thompson
Boston Phoenix, March 5, 2004, Goodies at the DeCordova and the Fitchburg, C. Millis
New England/New Talent catalog, Fitchburg Art Museum, February 2004
Boston Globe, At ‘The Drawing Show,’ works literally leap off the page, Cate McQuaid

Art New England, November/December 2003, Regional Reviews, Lauren O’Neal
Art Papers, November/December 2003, Reviews, Robin Bernat
Sculpture Magazine, September/October 2003, Review, Marty Carlock
Art New England, June/July 2003, Regional Reviews, Shawn Hill
Flat Not Flat brochure, Atlanta College of Art, May 2003, essay by Lisa Fischman

Boston Globe, December 29, 2002, Best of 2002, Cate McQuaid
Boston Globe, August 23, 2002, Some Edgy Artists Play with Space, Cate McQuaid

Grants and Fellowships

Spike Associates, Documenta 13 Travel Bursary, Kassel, Germany, 2012

Spike Associates, Venice Biennale Travel Bursary, Venice, Italy, 2011

Somerville Arts Council, Artists Fellowship, Somerville, MA

Somerville Arts Council, Artists Fellowship, Somerville, MA


Watching Water Research Residencies, Portreath, Cornwall, UK, 2010-2014

Spike Associates, Residency, Berlin, Germany, 2010

Bath Storefront Residency, Bath, England, 2009

Bernard Toale Gallery, After Hours Residency, Boston, MA, 2005-2007

Tufts University, Art Gallery, Tufts University, Medford, MA 2004
Memphis College of Art Gallery, Memphis College of Art, Memphis, TN, 2004

Atlanta College of Art Gallery, Atlanta College of Art, Atlanta, GA, 2003

Green Street Gallery, Boston, MA, 2002

Awards and Honors

Dean’s Scholarship, School of the Art Institute of Chicag

Spike Associates, Curatorial Grant, For Real, Spike Island

Boston Globe, ‘Many Kinds of Nothing’ exhibition named one of Ten Best Shows of
Nomination for Institute of Contemporary Art Boston Foster Prize, 2008

Artists Resource Trust, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, 2006

International Art Critics Association, Second Place in the category of Best Show in an Alternative Space

Boston Globe, Green Street Gallery exhibition named one of Ten Best Shows, Cate McQuaid

Massachusetts Cultural Council, Professional Development Grant, Boston, MA, 2001


Visiting Lecturer, Camberwell College of Art/University of the Arts London, London, UK

Visiting Lecturer, University of the West of England, Architecture, Bristol, UK

Associate Lecturer, University of the West of England, Drawing & Applied Art, Bristol,

Art Institute of Boston, Boston, MA
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Memphis College of Art Gallery, Memphis College of Art, Memphis, TN

Atlanta College of Art Gallery, Atlanta College of Art, Atlanta, GA
Visiting Lecturer, New England School of Art and Design, Boston, MA

University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA

Curatorial Projects
more than momentary: ENJOY, a participatory, curatorial project engaging 24 international participants culminating in an exhibition at RaumX

faethm, Charlottesville, Virginia, Curate multi-disciplinary, occasional salon

Spike Island Open Studios, For Real, Bristol, UK, 2009, Curated and exhibited in show including 5 UK and 5 US artists highlighting the shift from flatness to dimensionality, Funding provided by Spike Island Associates Programme

Biking in Berlin

Catalog Essay by Karin Lelonek

American artist Nancy Murphy Spicer arrives in a springtime Berlin in 2010 from her adopted home country of England. She brings the usual items in her suitcase that everyone carries when visiting a new city for the first time: a city map and a city guide. Then she makes the important decision to rent a bicycle, the best of all methods to get to know a city, especially Berlin.

Her biking forays around the city are initially chosen in relation to art studios, galleries, artist-run spaces and museums. Rarely, however, does she ride to her destination directly. She takes detours with spontaneous turns here and there. She feels her way through the city, exploring the rhythms of the street, a flâneur on bike. Thanks in part to Berlin’s notably bicycle-friendly design, she moves about freely, fully aware that a brief two decades ago the Berlin Wall required Berliners to take very different routes. Murphy Spicer traverses the former borders of zones and sectors effortlessly, unselfconsciously cycling across the unified Berlin. She records her cycling routes on her city map, to orientate herself and to remember. The standard tourist map becomes her geospatial diary. Curious forms emerge, giving rise to the shapes in this place, the works that now comprise the Biking in Berlin series.

Large and small shapes collide, overlap, float apart, connect to one another. Some are color and some are the negative space left after shapes have been cut away. Viewed from a distance the works give an appearance of being very spacious and the colored areas seem to be smooth. Islands float on an airy base as if it were possible to move them and combine them into new constellations. Up close, the shapes have a very different feel, a strong physical presence from the accretion of paint. You can imagine brushing your finger across the surface and tracing the shapes in relief, the flow of the brushstrokes tangible. And what seems close to perfection from a distance now reveals small irregularities that have not been corrected nor camouflaged by the artist.  Each shape preserves and amplifies its own individuality and imperfection, and it is this imperfection that invites the viewer to explore more closely, to have an intimate dialogue with the shapes just as the artist herself has done.

Murphy Spicer disassembled her printed city guide and used the pages themselves to create these works. The outline of her biking paths became the most prominent shapes. Smaller shapes began as images in the guidebook — architectural details, close-ups of streets, monuments. She cut out these small elements, painted them and, in some cases, reinserted them into the page, often intersecting or floating closely in relation to the larger shape. Clues to the origin of these smaller shapes are painted over, the literal reference masked by layer upon layer of paint. Only the shape remains. And yet, all elements of this dislodged and collaged Berlin are connected to the city. Color has been a way into this work, according to Murphy Spicer.  Color serves as a means of animating shape, for perceiving and observing shapes in interaction. This multilayered dialogue of color and shape is created in the spirit of the peripatetic cyclist, deliberately serendipitous, entering new territory with open eyes and anticipation.

Berlin is a fitting subject for this work. There is an enormous diversity of shapes that comprise the city, the intended or unintended result of art, design, architecture and changing borders. Murphy Spicer’s work reveals her keen awareness of this. The physiognomy and layout of Berlin has changed in its recent past like no other major European city. The destruction during World War II, the separation into sectors by the Allies, the building of the Berlin Wall, the fall of the Wall and the reunification of the city — all of these events cut, dismembered, and rejoined the city over and over again, changing its texture dramatically. The continuous process of overwriting, deleting and rewriting is ongoing. This city has constantly re-formed itself, storing its past in the evolving layers of space that is Berlin today. With the Biking in Berlin series, Murphy Spicer has added her own layers, her traces of personally experienced space, to the stratification of Berlin. This reference to the lived experience within the larger timescales of history makes the series so intriguing, the evanescent shapes inviting reflection on the shapes of one’s own personal trajectories in this place.

The eclectic, vibrant cosmopolitan capital that we take as unbounded Berlin today is still imprinted in collective memory and the spatial memory of the city with what used to be East and West. Today we move about the city with ease. In the midst of daily routines, rarely do we recall that such fluidity was impossible for most of the second half of the twentieth century. The immediate sense of freedom within the space of the city that cycling brings expands and deepens as we become more conscious of the historical forces that have shaped this place. Perceptively, this makes Berlin even more ample. The small works reflect the multi-faceted metropolis: various shapes, layers and surfaces, its imperfections, its rough edges, its constantly dislodged and collaged spaces. Within the economical containers of these small works lies the universe of this place steeped in histories, the intimate trajectories that define our everyday lives and the larger contours of history that comprise Berlin.

Adaptation from Karin Lelonek’s German text

Translation by Susanne Christine Nestor

Karin Lelonek is an art historian who lives in Berlin and works as an independent curator and author with a focus on photography and architecture of the 20th century. She has organized exhibitions at many German institutions including Kunsthalle Bremen, Kunstmuseum Ahlen (photographer Lothar Wolleh), Akademie der Künste Berlin (architect Hans Poelzig), and Berlinische Galerie (Friedrich Seidenstücker) and Akademie der Künste Berlin (Poste Restante).