Bridget Murphy Milligan, associate professor of the Department of Art and Art History at The College of Wooster, was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for the 2021 fiscal year for her artwork “Wonder Tales: The Imprint of Child’s Play,” a photographic series that celebrates childhood. According to the Ohio Arts Council website, the Individual Excellence Awards “are peer recognition of a creative artist’s body of work that exemplifies their specific discipline and advances the larger artistic community.”
Murphy Milligan uses the medium of photography as a tool for storytelling. “Throughout my career as an image maker, I have always used photography as a vehicle to tell stories and to express my ideas. As a maker of images, my artwork engages in a central interest in image types and their ways of recording, collecting, and presenting stories,” she said.
Her series “Wonder Tales,” which was exhibited at The College of Wooster Art Museum early last year, celebrates childhood and features Murphy Milligan’s own children as its subjects. “About four years ago, I started photographing the children as they played, curiosity leading the way,” she said. “This photographic series investigates the inventive play and the uninhibited curiosity of children. The images weave tangible experiences with fictional narratives.”
Murphy Milligan is also motivated by curiosity herself, both in her work and teaching at the College. “In my studio and in the classroom, the passion for creating art comes from a strong desire to be curious and the confidence to take risks,” she explained. Murphy Milligan, who teaches classes on photography, digital imaging, and interactive installation, credits her students with helping her to develop her own art. “The inspiration comes directly from being a teacher and the incredible students that come to Wooster. Talented, dedicated, and truly remarkable, they push me to reach beyond the context of our lives and to make work that connects audiences and engages the world in a meaningful way,” she said.
The Ohio Arts Council award recognizes that Murphy Milligan has been successful in connecting to others through her art. “Receiving this OAC award is confirmation that what I am doing is worth looking at. I am very grateful to receive this award mid-career and to join the 2021 recipients is an honor,” she said. The $4,000 award will allow Murphy Milligan to continue to grow her already well-established art practice. “It will allow me to continue to develop my ideas and to create work that is both interesting and challenging,” she said. “It will also enable me to continue to explore and examine both the language and craft of art making.”
Top photo: Murphy Milligan’s “Wonder Tales” exhibited at The College of Wooster Art Museum in January 2020.