Back to our Roots: Artist goes back to nature to take a deeper look at our spirituality

Through his beautiful illustrations, Syracuse-based graphic illustrator and artist Joseph Murphy loves to explore nature and spirituality, encouraging us to go back to our roots and detach ourselves from all the unnatural elements of our modern lives.

Speaking of his work to Creative Boom, Murphy said: "In my work, I believe that at its foundation, nature is vastly sublime. If we take a moment and stand in its presence, one begins to notice subtleties that often go unnoticed because nature inherently presents itself both with and without an exemplification of religion. In turn, this creates a struggle due to symbolism and developed language. One way to approach nature, thus, is to empty oneself of partisan beliefs and learned behaviour.

"Through the use of water, a natural element with mystical associations in literary text and an integral part of the cycle of natural life, it brings a changing of atmosphere that may awaken unique, individual feelings within us like a religious experience. This transcendence can be as open to interpretation as the evaporation of sea water, the struggle to personify the natural world in human form in order to make an emotive connection, or ultimately, the idea of interpreting a belief system as architecture, both of the natural and man-made world, in order to transport oneself from a secular state to a sacred experience. By considering atmosphere and the cycle of water as ways to explore the world’s limitlessness, I invite the viewer to stand in a presence outside of themselves."

Murphy has earned his BFA and MFA in Illustration through Syracuse University. His work has been included in shows and exhibitions through the Society of Illustrators of New York/Los Angeles, Creative Quarterly, and ICON (the National Illustration Conference). Discover more at


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