The Santa Monica College Pete & Susan Barrett Art Gallery will present “Gwynn Murrill: Early Wood Sculpture,” an exhibit of the artist’s work from the early 1970s, beginning Tuesday, September 1st through Saturday, October 24th.

An opening reception is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, September 12th at the gallery located in the SMC Performing Arts Center at Santa Monica Boulevard and 11th Street. The gallery is open noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

A number of the sculptures assembled for the exhibit were made in the early 1970s, as Murrill was finishing her bachelor’s and master of fine arts degrees at UCLA. Although she was a painting major, Murrill said she took a sculpture class and was so intrigued by the use of laminated wood blocks in making a rocking horse that she continued with sculpting.

Eventually, she received her master’s degree in painting, but she graduated with a refined

body of sculpture large enough to have an exhibition at Rico Mizuno Gallery in Los Angeles in 1972. That launched the Los Angeles artist into a career

as a sculptor, with a particular interest in the animal form, created with a unique balance between abstraction and representation, she said.

“My second rocking horse from 1971 will be in this SMC show, and I will also be showing several pieces that were completed for my second solo exhibition, which was at Nick Wilder Gallery (in Los Angeles) in 1977,” Murrill said.

She noted that her career has taken her all over the world. Also included in the exhibit will be pieces from the mid 1980s, when she was working with Koa wood while in Hawaii.

The work displayed in the SMC show comes from her own collection, while several pieces are on loan from private collectors, LA Louver Gallery in

Venice, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Murrill said that working with wood blocks made it possible for her to make radical changes in the sculpture to tackle “sculptural problems I set up for myself.

“My interest in figurative sculpture is more about life and movement of the form as it is held by the surrounding space, rather than it is about the specific details of a certain individual,” she explained. “Though I use photographs while working, I try to stay away from portraiture and pay more attention to the abstract qualities of the form of the animal.”

Murrill has sculpted not only in wood, but also in marble, bronze, stone and ceramic.

Over her career, the sculptor has received many accolades including the Guggenheim Fellowship, a Prix di Roma Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, a National Endowment Grant, and a purchase award from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Murrill’s work is held by many private collections and can been seen in a number of public commissions throughout the U.S. and across the globe.

The City of Obihiro, Japan installed seven of Murrill’s deer sculptures along its main thoroughfares in 2003, and Los Angeles’ Grand Hope Park is home to a collection of three of her coyotes, a hawk, and one snake.

Information, (310) 434-3434.