When Laura Parker, award-winning painter and founder of Abstract Road, decided to start making rugs she says the new project made perfect sense. She would finally be able to combine her work in visual arts with her passion for textiles and, importantly, with her longstanding concern for trafficked and oppressed laborers. GoodWeave, she says, was the ideal ally for her undertaking.
Giving her already popular abstract paintings new life in a tactile form was a thorough joy, says the St. Simons Island, Georgia-based artist. “I wanted to create rugs that would help preserve the integrity and artisanship of the rug makers.” A trip to Nepal in 2018 confirmed her commitment to the new project, but the seed of the idea actually came much earlier. It grew out of her seamstress mother’s dream to save up and someday be able to buy a Persian rug. When her mother finally was able to purchase a carpet, Laura remembers being mesmerized by its texture, colors and symbols. That childhood experience, she says, was an early awakening to the art of the handcrafted rug.
When later in her career she visited the Bauhaus, she found she was drawn to the artists working in textiles. It was only, however, when travelling in Nepal that she discovered both a software program and a master rug artisan to help her realize her project. The die was cast, she says. “That was the ‘aha’ moment!”
Although her influences are many, she points to two travel experiences that shape her vision today. The first was a long stay in Japan where she met artists and influential crafts people. She was taken with the way Japanese artists were inspired by nature.
“Japan really changed my whole life and the way I view the world,” she says. She points to her 100% wool piece “Greens of July” influenced by both the forest of Okinawa and that of her own land in rural Georgia.
Other motifs that feature in the designs of her one-of-a-kind rugs are based on ancient petroglyphs and the symbols of Indigenous artists of the Americas. She first discovered this early art form in the mountains of Costa Rica. She was fascinated. Variants of Native American symbols, for example, are incorporated into “Giants are Coming”. Symbols, she believes, have a wealth of meaning and express universality throughout history.
As an artist, preserving ancient crafts and honoring the arts of ancient peoples are both deeply important to Laura. Equally important to her are the values of social justice. When first setting up her business she says she asked herself how she could be sure she could run a commercial enterprise and still keep her integrity intact? She found her answer. “GoodWeave was the way to go.”