Views and Reviews of Margaret Parker’s Work
“If t-shirts evoke a system in which people are expected to fit themselves into a dominant mold, what do we accomplish by “tearing” them and yet “leaving them whole”? This visual question, as posed by Parker's work, really asks about how we can accomplish change while working with what we already have. How can we weave together these pieces to make something new, something more whole, something that honors our individual stories, experiences, and bodies?” (Read full piece below.)
Lauren Lydic writes on visual culture and is based in Toronto
“This work (reconstructed T-shirts) is completely original.”
Mark Tucker, Lloyd Hall Scholars, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
“Margaret Parker offers up a tremendous amount of work, including an entire series in which she transforms ordinary T-shirts into distinctive sculptural objects through imaginative cutting and hanging.…..Art can offer a fresh perspective in this time when the “global war against terror” has been declared indefinitely. Fabric of Fear is necessary and essential viewing.” ”
Nick Sousanis, Metrotimes, September 21, 2005, review of “Fabric of Fear” at 555 Gallery, Detroit
“…artworks that pose provocative questions about how Washington is conducting the War on Terror, about U.S. foreign policy and about underlying values generally. Many of the works are rough and raw. But all convey authentic sentiments and ideals. Viewers will be moved by the exhibit’s urgency.”
Roger Green, Ann Arbor News, September 17, 2005, review of “Fabric of Fear” at 555 Gallery, Detroit
“There’s a tension between Parker’s subject matter and her means of execution. Working in abstraction from natural sources is a little like writing in two languages at once, with one set of ideas providing alphabet and another the syntax.”
Ken Greenleaf, Maine Sunday Telegram, October 23, 1994 review of “The Forest Series,” Gold/Smith Gallery, Boothbay Harbor, ME.
“In her Dark Shore series, Margaret Parker combines a multitude of loose, bold brushstrokes with luminous gouache medium to render the woods of the Maine shoreline. No matter how dense the trees, light filters through.....could serve as the backdrop for a play by some Maine-borne Goethe....”
Carl Little, past editor of Art in America, Art New England, June/July, 1993, review of “Beyond Tradition”, Elsworth Library, Elsworth, ME
Of Stations, the Way of the Cross, text by Daniel Berrigan, photographs of terra cotta reliefs by Margaret Parker, Harper & Row, 1989
“A moving and original book. A remarkable collaboration.” Mary McCarthy
“Parker raises street misery to eye level as Berrigan raises the cry of the poor to an eloquent rage.” Martin Sheen
“The intensive stillness of Margaret Parker’s vision, and Daniel Berrigan’s imaginatively broken prose, here offer us a strong communion with the homeless, whom we routinely deny on our own hometown streets.”
Philip Booth, poet
“Makes real and concrete what other make abstract and unseen…We and the people we serve are deeply grateful.” Mitch Snyder, Community for Creative Nonviolence
“....through her images the streets become also a school of mercy. There we might learn unaccustomed skills. There, against all likelihood, we might learn compassion.”
Daniel Berrigan, 1989
”The spontaneity of Parker’s work is not merely a reaction, but a product of careful analysis and experience. Compositionally well-balanced, the internal rhythms of her work are evident on two levels: as a whole flowing smoothly, while the separate components of the pieces work to reinforce the subject matter with their deliberately disrupted patterns. The overall mood of the work is one of uneasy harmony, achieved through the artist’s skillful manipulations of shape and color.”
Leslie Plummer, New York Arts Journal, January 1980, review of “Margaret Parker, Paintings”, National Art Center, New York, NY.
Full piece by Lauren Lydic
Lauren Lydic, a writer on visual culture based in Toronto, observed of Margaret Parker's “Dream House”:
If t-shirts evoke a system in which people are expected to fit themselves into a dominant mold, what do we accomplish by “tearing” them and yet “leaving them whole”? This visual question, as posed by Parker's work, really asks about how we can accomplish change while working with what we already have. How can we weave together these pieces to make something new, something more whole, something that honors our individual stories, experiences, and bodies? How do we earn to make our differences into strengths? How do we build new communities, even as we are made more isolated and impoverished? Audre Lorde wrote that the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house, but her house seems to call that philosophy into question. Perhaps we already have what we need (the t-shirts) to weave what we actually want (the houses that will shelter us and nurture us); we just have to take them apart and put them back together, braiding our stories and ourselves into this new architecture.
The resulting house, this woven house, is not only a social space but a mental one. After all, mental space and social space presuppose each other. Furthermore, any idea of space is grounded inextricably in where people live. So the space of the woven house is a site of both practical and theoretical negotiations. Visually, the space contains not only things (pieces of t-shirts; our selves), but also relations (the knots, the connections, the absences; our identities, our dreams, our social position).
“Dream House” make visible some of the ways in which physical, mental, and social spaces get woven together and torn apart. This house, perhaps, speak to what is usually dressed up by facades: the torn pieces function not unlike a skeletal framework. The t-shirts evoke the bodies that are absent from the houses (but for which all houses are built!), and remind us that every building is an institutionalized extension of the body, a living space that evidences the political power and knowledge of the producing society. As Lefebvre writes, “society itself is a space and an architecture of concepts, forms and laws whose abstract truth is imposed on the reality of the senses, of bodies, of wishes and desires”.