Alina Nackos Murdock stands in front of the 4T Art Exhibit at the Love Muffin Café. Murdock painted 40 12-by-12-inch paintings representing Time, Topography, Transition and Transformation. [Photo courtesy Alina Nackos Murdock]

Alina Nackos Murdock is celebrating her 40th birthday at the Love Muffin Café on Saturday. She will also share her 4T Art Exhibit, representing Time, Topography, Transition and Transformation.

“Turning forty was monumental,” Murdock said. “I set a goal and it pushed me to do things differently than I normally would have.”

The exhibit has been a labor of love over months and years of exploration, not an easy feat for the busy mother of four boys and part-time art teacher at Grand County Middle School.

The exhibit features 40 self-portraits and 40 12-by-12-inch paintings.

“The Time series includes 40 portrait scans. On my flatbed scanner, I’ve taken to scanning my face and altering it on the computer throughout the past three years,” Murdock said.

Murdock’s four sons River, Ridge, Rowan and Ryder were worried that scanning her eyeballs would make her go blind.

“I did some research and I think I’m okay,” Murdock said.

Scanning became a way for Murdock to use her skin and face as a medium to explore the patterns of human experience.

“Visually the textures and lines tie into the patterns of my other work,” she said, referring to the forty 12 by 12-inch paintings. “Each is inspired by a topographical area on a map, and is also symbolic and representational of time, transition, and transformation.”

Murdock earned a degree in experimental sculpture from Utah State University, following in the footsteps of her father, sculptor Frank Nackos, who creates large-scale outdoor sculptures.

But as she was raising four active boys, she had to find a way to “explore art from the dining room table.”

Murdock found patterns between the digital diary she was recording through the scanner and the lines found in landscapes and throughout nature.

While each painting in the 4T exhibit was loosely based on the area of a topographic map, each was “influenced by similar patterns in nature.”

The paintings are an exploration of patterns found throughout nature, Murdock said. “Mitochondria, microscopic views of plant cells, the nervous system, slices of rock, aerial photos of geographical features, images of nubulae from deep space.”

She noticed that it was all part of process.

“The process of aging and natural processes the land goes through, what we humans go through – and the patterns through those processes,” Murdock said. “I thought it tied in well with the aging process.”

And while each painting began with a map, by the end she discovered something new as she allowed the art to be organic and develop.

“Visually, I want it to be bright and colorful and beautiful and have those patterns be delicious or stunning, but also that underlying connectedness of pattern of time and processes through nature, humanity and geography,” Murdock said.