Laura is a San Francisco-based conceptual artist whose work often focuses on agriculture, the environment and social structure. As an interdisciplinary artist she works in drawing, painting, artists books, and installation. Her 2001 work, “How far are you from the farm? A mile or a generation?” invited library patrons to fill a wall with memories and experiences of the land. Parker’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at Copia Center for Food, Wine & the Arts; Triton Museum of Art; Sonoma County Museum; Falkirk Cultural Center; San Francisco Public Library’s Jewett Gallery; Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Cologne, Germany; MR Gallerie and the Chateau de Nieuil, France.
Tom Willey, who farms 80 acres in Madera, leaned across his dinner table and extended his open palm toward me. He said, “If my hand were filled with soil, there would be more microorganisms here there than the number of people on this planet.” The diversity of microbes associated with plant roots is enormous, in the order of tens of thousands of species. Yes, I knew there were a lot of microorganisms but somehow this image presented the information in a very different context to me.
Since that time I have been fascinated with the hidden world of the soil, from seeing if my senses could detect the transference from soil to plant and vice verse to imagining the hidden world of that landscape. Like most people, when I think of landscape I think of trees, plants and sky. But what of the world below—the one I can’t see? Everything we see is dependent on what we do not see: the soil, the roots, and the microorganisms. Our world, and that includes us, could not exist without the soil. We walk on it, we eat it, we build with it, we breathe it.
Did you know that some roots of native perennial grasses can provide up to 80% of the organic matter that regenerates rich prairie soil? And that some of these grasses develop roots reaching 12 to 15 feet deep?
We hope you’ll join us to dig into some of these marvels at Laura’s show.