Laura McPhee was born in Manhattan and grew up in central New Jersey. She earned her BA from Princeton University and an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design, and is currently a professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She lives in Brookline, MA.
She 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 and on climate change, the images depict our paradoxical approaches as we at once protect, alter, and extract from the land.