Marlene McCarty — Murder Girls

Marlene McCarty, in her later years, moved from graphic design to drawing, specifically with a ballpoint pen and graphite. Focusing on social issues is always her goal, but she moved onto more working on feminist and sexual issues. In her series “Murder Girls,” Marlene drew multiple young women in see-through clothes showing and bringing emphasis to their sexual parts. Along with the drawings, they were captioned with detailed descriptions of their crimes. These girls she drew had committed crimes of many sorts, and the reason she drew there sexual parts so vividly was to make a connection between the crimes and them growing sexually. In an interview, Marlene expresses the fact that when drawing these pieces, she simply used information given from the new articles on these girls to draw them and make her own interpretation of them. She also spoke on the fact that in this series, unlike most others, the “young women [are] simultaneously depicted as both violent and diminutive” (Relyea, 2017). The inspiration for this series stems from wanting to bring attention to these girls who simply “cracked under the feeling of immense oppression from the family, the domestic, the mother” which led to violence from the seemingly normal teenage girls (Relyea, 2017). Marlene strives to express the power struggle that occurs in the family and causes the teenage girls, who obviously are growing and changing rapidly, to go wild. Feminist movements were starting to emerge at this time, but Marlene had a great impact on getting the movement started. She brought a provocative view to feminist art at the time, and paved the way for other artists to take action like she did.

Marlene Olive – June 21, 1975, 1995-97, Graphite on paper, 96 x 60 inches; Private Collection.

Melinda Loveless, Toni Lawrence, Hope Rippey, Laurie Tackett And Shanda Sharer – January 11, 1992. 1:39 Am (2 Of 4 Murals), Graphite and ballpoint pen on paper, 10 x 14 feet; Collection of MOCA, Los Angeles.



Relyea, L. (2017, September 15). A discussion of power: a conversation with Marlene McCarty. Retrieved from