To talk rugs and carpets with Laura Parker is to enter into an atypical discussion encompassing far more than “Is the rug the right size?,” “Is it within budget?,” or “Can it be made with more orange in it?” In fact there is little typical about Laura Parker—particularly when it comes to rugs. Rug Insider set out to find out why.
“Michael, I’d like to introduce you to Ms. Laura Parker, she’s here for training on how to use Galaincha,” was the introduction made by my friend and colleague Dr. Jyoti Tandukar of Kathmandu, Nepal’s Alternative Technology. I had just two hours before arrived in Kathmandu and now found myself eating lunch with Parker, a relative neophyte to carpetry but an old soul regarding humanity, spirituality, and of course artistic endeavors.
“I’m an artist you see,” began Parker as our conversation then immediately jumped from topic to topic, all reflective of our mutual and varied interests. “When you meet someone, sometimes you just immediately know you are going to like them,” Parker would later tell me regarding our introduction. “Kind of like a beautiful rug or work or art I suppose,” I replied surmising Parker would agree, even if only tacitly.
Laura Parker has worked for the past twenty-five years in a non-medical role practicing psychiatry. Her work with military members has taken her to notable and memorable locales such as Japan and Germany; the latter’s Bauhaus movement and textile work thereof leaving a lasting impression. She’s also an accomplished modern artist whose abstract paintings reflect her interpretation of nature and the environment around us. Moreover due to her work in psychiatry there is a distinct and genuine human element to her work, and her approach to carpetry. “I’ve watched clients treat rug dealers as somehow less than human,” states Parker with a degree of disdain before concluding with the more philosophical statement, “We are who we are, each trying to learn from the past and from each other.”
As a young girl Parker recalls her mother receiving a hand-knotted Persian rug and specifically how that rug then weathered and aged over time as her mother moved house. This permanent impermanence if you will has proven to be an inescapable draw to Parker who, after years of envisaging her paintings as hand-knotted carpets, has finally made the leap into a new form of artistic expression via her firm, Abstract Road.
“I’m not a retailer, I’m an artist,”states Parker as we discuss her work via telephone. Said as if that was somehow a negative, Parker continues her stream of thought. “I had wanted to convert my paintings into carpets for many years. And, as I often say, ‘You are born when you are meant to be just as you die when you are meant to.’” Extrapolating further meaning from this, it is safe to state the obvious; this is the right time for Laura Parker to make her artwork into carpets.
Parker’s work in abstract painting is well informed by the world around us as she reminds abstract expressionism comes from a place of social instability, bringing forth “wild creativity.” It also has allowed her to explore the notion of rehabilitation through art, being reactive versus proactive, and in the broader context of this issue of RUG INSIDER, adds that all art is a blend of feminine and masculine perspectives and themes.
The artist’s deep philosophical understanding of the nature of existence is enchanting. Whether it is her comment “if people really think about their work then there is symbolism in the work,” or her approach to “blending the modern and the ancient to create symbolism of this era,” or—if we are to touch slightly on business—the importance of “meeting your international business partner face to face, and seeing them eye to eye,” Parker’s innate wisdom informs all of her work. But she does not rest on these laurels. “We are all students. I like to surround myself with masters of their craft because that is how I learn,” concludes Parker about her relationship with her Nepali maker, Mr. Puspa Ratna Maharjan (Dhana), the owner of Ujwal Carpet Udhyog.
“When we met in Kathmandu I was just starting my journey into rugs,” begins Parker. “I had gone for training on how to use the tool of Galaincha to translate my artwork into rugs and to meet Dhana who is making them for me. Since then I have found that I now understand the process better and am changing my designs—the way I paint—so that the finished carpet will best match the vision of it I have in my head.”
As she would then later remind me, “The journey never ends.” Rug Insider is waiting with anticipation to see where Parker’s may take her.
Photography courtesy of Abstract Road