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Cornelia Parker’s Art Pieces of Destruction

By: Summer Chu

Cornelia Parker, a British contemporary artist, uses her sculptures and many other forms of art to communicate issues of our current time including violence, ecology, and human rights. But how did her artistic eye develop?

Parker grew up as one of three daughters to an abusive father and a schizophrenic mother in the city of Chester during the 1960s. In her childhood, she was forced to spend her playtime performing chores like mucking out stables and milking cows. To Parker, spending the little free time she had creating sculptures out of objects she destroyed was a great escape. For example, she used to place coins on the train tracks and watch them become disfigured and abnormal, making little treasures out of her strange creations.

These childhood experiences molded Parker to be who she is now, an artist who creates her works through excavating, wrapping, wiping, dropping, burning, and blowing things up. She creates sculptures, photos, prints, and films that are thought-evoking and chaotic in a way that tries to drive her audience into action. Along with creating art pieces, Parker also taught for a few years at the University of Manchester.

Now Cornelia creates art pieces exhibited in many art installations, especially in Britain’s Tate Museum where around 100 of her art pieces are displayed for the world to see. The pieces display many different mediums. From drawings with wire that’s been sewn through paper to sculptures using only silverware to the suspended remnants of a garden shed that she persuaded the British Army to help her blow to smithereens in 1991.

"Everything just sort of weaves together," Parker tells BBC Culture, reflecting on the sight of so much of her life's creative effort gathered in one place. "The Tate owns all my major works, so they just had to get them out of the old archive.” Even with all of these pieces in art exhibitions, Cornelia Parker still has so much art left that she has yet to show the world.

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