Within her work, she uses ancestral weaving traditions in combination with modern techniques and materials, to explore her heterogeneous cultural identity (which she refers to as mestizaje ch'eqchi) and to enter into a relation with her ancestors.
Foundational for Murillo’s practice was the realization of how the art and legacy of the Peruvian textile culture have been completely erased from the artistic educational system in Peru. After a BFA in Painting at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima, she followed an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was only during her master's program in the US that she learned about the great ancestral weavers of the Andean region through a Western lens: learning to weave under Anni Albers legacy, reading books on textiles and visiting textile archives only available there. In Peru, she was only introduced to a Eurocentric view of arts and culture where the emphasis was on painting on canvas. Traditional materials such as plant or animal fibers, as well as processes such as weaving and natural dyeing, have been largely excluded due to a hierarchical differentiation between craft and modern or contemporary western art.
Since 2017 her practice shifted from creating sculptural work to researching the diaspora of textiles from Peru to Western institutions, reflecting on how the colonial system has perpetuated the dominant western culture against the indigenous, as well as on weaving as a tool for reclaiming her cultural identity. After her MFA, she settled in Cusco where she became the head of the education department of the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco. This organization rescues and revitalizes the textile traditions of Peru's ancestors. To further empower her community, she founded the union of textile artists Noqanchis (2021) with other well-known young weavers from the Peruvian Andes.
“As a Peruvian artist, I listen to the voice of that presence, the present. I listen to it, talk to it, decode it, express it ... Weaving is my language. In its grid, past and future are omnipresent so that my work transcends the individual and becomes something collectively. It allows me to unravel my state of systematized "division" and weave the contradictions together.”
– María José Murillo