Sophie Parker

Sophie Parker
Artist Statement
 

“The ‘you’ of five years ago was made from different stuff than the ‘you’ of today. Nature is an event that never stops. When we see an organism, from a fungus to a pine tree, we catch a single moment in its continual development.” 

-Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life, 2020


The world of fungi is expansive and incredibly intelligent. I believe that we as humans have a lot to learn from how these organisms interact with their environment and live in symbiosis with other nature around them. As someone who found it difficult to pay attention in biology classes with boring textbooks and long lists of memorization as a kid, my current goal as an artist is to make our natural world more interesting and engaging for people, especially young people. If textbooks were illustrated in a way that captured the imagination of a child in elementary school, maybe more people would pay attention to how much there is to love about our natural world and everything it has to offer. 

Mushrooms existed on Earth hundreds of millions of years ago, and they are sure to remain on Earth long after the human race as we know it dies out. We may be eating mushrooms now, using them for their incredible medicinal, psychedelic, and nourishing properties. But one day, I imagine the mushrooms will start eating us. My current art practice imagines what kind of hybrid fungi-humans might roam our world in that future. Our bodies are composed of networks of blood, muscle, and neurons; the mycelial network of fungi won’t need to work hard to infiltrate our systems and create something new. In this world, the fungal bodies let loose – free from society – sometimes mocking the way humans used to repress their animalistic nature. While most of my illustrations depict this hybrid mushroom race, the rest proposes this world’s equivalent of cave paintings – the last remaining signs of the human race. These drawings include frantic messages hashed out in a character-based language that does not yet exist and broken images of bodies and faces, the final witnesses of the fungal takeover. 

Fungi communicate via a hidden, underground web, secretly connecting many seemingly unrelated fruiting bodies. I view my entire art practice as a mycelial network itself. All of my work is laterally related, with reoccurring themes and symbols that span across my drawings, paintings, and sculptural work. My illustrative work focuses on details and repeating motifs such as varying species of mushroom or teeth and muscle tissue of the digestive system. I usually don’t plan or force any of the patterns that appear as I work, but when they arise, I exercise patience in repeating them until the piece is finished. My paintings are a stark contrast to my precise illustrations – I often paint quickly, without second thought or attention to detail – but both methods of working relate to one another, connected by thematic content and the process of not over-planning the execution. Like you, myself, all human life, and all of nature, my artistic practice is a continual development, growing and branching out, documenting my predictions of fungal growth as well as the grotesque evolution of our own bodies. 

Image of studio

Drawings of unusual fungi on studio walls.

Close up of drawings of unique fungi on studio walls.

Alternate image of studio

Alternate image of studio and 'field guide to mushrooms' booklet

Closeup image of the 'Field Guid to Mushrooms' booklet

 

 

 

 

 

 


VADA Senior Exhibition 2021

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Staff

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Emeriti Faculty