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Katie Murray: Photography Professor

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

By Tyler Thompson

Katie Murray, professor of photography (Photo via Katie Murray)

Coming in last semester, Katie Murray has brightened up the photography program and continues to every day, according to students. Murray is a professor and adviser here at Purchase and teaches Senior Seminar 1, Still Motion and Lens in Time. She keeps her students engaged and wanting more after every class.

Murray is a photographer and videographer, but she wasn't always planning to be. She did photography as a hobby but started studying business at Oneonta and took a photography class because she had space in her schedule. While taking this class she met Andrea Modica who is a Purchase alumnus. Modica became a big influence on Murray and pushed her to go to an art school for photography because she saw how passionate she was about the art form.

“[Modica] had a profound influence on me,” Murray said. “She was young, and she was excited about the media. She’s from Brooklyn, and I’m from Queens, so I felt like oh there's this other person that's also from the boroughs of New York City and I started this photography class with her, and she saw that I had some sort of talent.”

Murray decided to listen to Modica and enrolled in SVA (school of visual arts) and then got her master’s at Yale. Murray never thought that she could get a photography degree at an Ivy League school until she met Modica, who also got her master’s at Yale. “She said you really need to go to an art school and study this properly and so she helped me, and she guided me towards school visual arts, so I went to SVA, and I finished my undergrad there and then I went on to Yale for a masters degree,” Murray said.

Upon coming to Purchase Murray has tried her best to inspire her students. In class, she works with her students on the projects they have to create for her class and pushes them to make the best work that they can. Within doing this she has found herself being inspired by her students. She talks about how working in this medium is a journey that we are all on together and we all should uplift each other.

Photography students have expressed that they are incredibly grateful for Murray. Bobby Cambria, a senior photography major, said, “Her critiques leave classmates and me feeling rejuvenated about our work. A feeling that I personally haven’t felt in the photo department for a while.”

Still image from Murray’s 2022 video "The Serpent

Beguiled Us, and We Ate" (Photo by Katie Murray”

Zoe Manalo, a second-semester senior, feels the same way about Murray. "It’s very refreshing having a new professor with a different perspective. She pushes for more talkative critiques, and pushes you to shoot more and dig deeper,” Manalo said.

When Murray first picked up the camera she started in portraiture and as she worked more with the medium she ventured out into landscapes and then video art. After having time away from home, she grew to look at it differently and started using the art forms to capture it in ways she can show everyone how she views home.

Murray recently finished a “fictitious” road trip across the United States.

“I started during Covid, and it was a fictitious road trip across the United States, and I say fictitious because I didn't actually travel across the United States, but I sort of did a deep dive into my archive of video footage and I kind of created this road trip that didn't take

Still image from Murray’s 2022 video "The Serpent Beguiled

Us and We Ate" (Photo by Katie Murray”

place,” Murray said.

Something Murray wants to tell all artists is to “never stop working.”

“The only way out of an artist block or creative block is to get through it and you get through it by working through it so whatever you do pick up that tool and do the thing that you're meant to do, and you'll get to the other side,” she said.


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