Degrees: BA, Princeton University; MFA, Rhode Island School of Design
Photographer Laura McPhee is noted for her stunning large-scale landscapes and portraits of the people who live and work in them. She is currently working in the desert west of the United States where she is chronicling visual stories about time, both geologic and human. A serpentine river cuts deep incisions in the land over ages. A gold mine on the edge of the Black Rock Desert has the earth slashed open and its ruddy interior revealed. A still-life found at the edge of an alkali flat reveals intricate details of daily life-a tiny plastic toy among shards of glass and rust, a penny, machine parts, and desert varnished tin cans. All contemplate the unintended consequences of humanity's attempts to control and manage nature and how we use the earth and to what ends. A meditation on our material lives, the images depict our paradoxical approaches as we at once protect, alter, and extract from the land.
McPhee's most recent monograph entitled, The Home and the World, A View of Calcutta, was published by Yale University Press in 2014: "This exquisitely produced book features a selection of McPhee's works made in and around India's former capital. Here we glimpse courtyards, living spaces, temples, and altars as both vestiges of the past and elements of contemporary urban existence. McPhee's images sensitively penetrate the surface to show the blurred boundaries between social classes, the blending of public and private life, and the resonance between India and other parts of the world."
The Alturas Foundation, Fulbright Institute, and the Van Alen Institute have honored McPhee with grants, commissions, and residencies. Major museums have collected her photographs, including the Amon Carter Museum, the Saint Louis Art Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. There are five major solo publications of her work.
Laura McPhee is a professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and lives in Brookline, MA.