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Rachel Murphy


Photography & Digital Arts

I received the Sarah Peter Fellowship and decided to pursue my life-long interest in ā€œsideshows,ā€ a group of performance acts that showcase human oddities and feature crowd-pleasing feats such as sword swallowing and walking on glass. 

It started in August of 2010, when I attended sideshow school in Coney Island, NY. Based on this experience, I realized that I wanted to spend my fellowship documenting myself learning new sideshow acts. As research, I took in sideshow performances in Old City, Philadelphia; Salem, MA; and Washington, DC. I also filmed my own live performance as part of a sideshow by graduates of the Coney Island Sideshow School.

This experience has inspired me to become the art instead of making the art. Iā€™m trying to make my art come alive on different levels because I find that the living acts are more visually striking and valid than a flat photograph on the wall. After graduation, I become a sideshow performer while also working in a portrait studio.