Profile in Style | Sarah Murphy & Matt Kemp

Sarah Murphy and Matt Kemp are telling me about their various projects, and I’m trying very hard to keep up.

They’ve just returned from a trip to Maine and New York, and Sarah is buzzing through her studio, alternating between showing me a stack of smooth lapis and obsidian stones she’s incorporating into the fall collection of her jewelry line and excitedly clicking through websites of recent interest: the lookbook of a friend’s clothing line; databases for ordering tiny soldering parts and brass chain; casting agencies for photoshoots she’s planning. Meanwhile, Matt works in the garden in the backyard of their East Austin house, which sits tucked away off 12th and Airport on a piece of land that is unexpectedly huge, with a sprawling, curvy yard, and plenty of space inside for the couple to work individually.

Between the two of their jobs, hobbies, and skill sets, you could literally create an entire art school curriculum: Matt is an artist and musician, currently wrapping up his second record, tentatively titled “The Way Things Move.” And in addition to jewelry design (she started her line, Hey Murphy!, in 2010), Sarah is a photographer, most recently having shown work in last summer’s “Contemporary Photographic Practice and the Archive,” a collaborative show between the Harry Ransom Center and Austin collective Lakes Were Rivers.

Spending an hour at Murphy and Kemp’s house is to peer directly into their influences; the house is a dense treasure trove, with every object attached to a story. “We travel so much, so wherever we go, we are always collecting little things to bring back,” Sarah explains. “Our friends laugh about how we’re always out of town, always planning our next trip—but really, everyone has the thing that refreshes them, and for us it is travel.” Their ultimate score—a megalodon tooth, found buried in the sand on a North Carolina beach—sits framed in a shadow box alongside shelves packed with everything from tiny ceramic birds to faded childhood Polaroids, from pristine glass-pressed butterflies to an extensive, author-categorized book collection.

Sarah and Matt, both respective art school graduates from Bard and the Savannah College of Art and Design, moved to Austin from Washington, D.C. in 2009 on “essentially a whim.” And after considering moves to other places, the pair had a realization about what it means to make your own life in this city. “We asked ourselves, ‘what kind of place do we want to live where we can have a fulfilled life and have time to pursue our own work?’” Sarah says. “Starting my line was about wanting to have another avenue of expressing my creative side, having something I could really put myself into. And really, so much being able to do that of that has been exclusive to living in Austin: where you live affects how you live.”

Sarah & Matt's Austin Essentials

  • Barbacoa taco at Veracruz All Natural
  • 1704 E. Cesar Chavez
  • The tastiest and friendliest-prepared food in Austin. When I go, I also get the watermelon agua fresca.
  • MASS Gallery
  • 507 Calles St #108
  • My favorite artist-run gallery. After a little hiatus they are back presenting some amazing art in a way that is always weird and exciting.
  • Turkey Creek Trail in the Emma Long Park
  • It's one of the best dog-friendly, off-leash hikes in Austin. It's really chill and if you're dying from the heat you can always go for a swim in the lake down the road.
  • Sway
  • 1417 S 1st St
  • Probably my favorite restaurant in Austin. The chili tamarind caramel chicken wings are amazing.


Photography by Wynn Myers


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