Mary Tooley Parker is a textile maker using various fibers as paint. After a career in dance, and then in art production at Vanity Fair and GQ magazines, Parker left New York City for a more rural environment. She then began pursuing an interest in textiles of different forms, eventually leading her to the one indigenous American folk art of hooking “rugs.” Her textile compositions have been exhibited from New York City to Vermont. She is a member of the National Association of Women Artists, and the Silvermine Guild of Artists. She was awarded a Fellowship by the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2015.Her artwork focuses on realistic interpretations of people and nature. Incorporated in her work are a variety of materials including wool, cotton, silk, fleece, yarn, bicycle streamers, denim, and metallic fibers. She uses natural and synthetic dyes to create colors as needed. Textile art is received by the viewer in a different way than fine art, and there is science showing that a different part of the brain is stimulated when viewing a textile. It appeals to the senses, especially touch, and gives a feeling of warmth and familiarity before the brain even registers the visual image. Working in the simple medium of rug hooking affords Parker a strong connection not only to the fibers running through her fingertips, but also to the women who used this and other fiber mediums to express themselves during more difficult times. She works to elevate this traditional medium from the floor to the wall to be viewed as art.
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