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Artist Uses Explosions to Create Masterpieces



By: Amy Xu


When one looks at British artist Cornelia Parker’s artwork, one sees shards of glass, wooden panes, and misshapen plastic. Since the 1980s, Parker has been using all kinds of agents to create contemporary art. From plastic explosives to snake venom, she uses them to design nearly 100 sculptures, installations, and drawings.


Ever since Parker was a little girl, she was fascinated with her destructive methods of art. Being one of the three children of an abusive father on a small farm, sources for entertainment were very limited. She would often spend time crushing coins into art and feel the exhilaration of creating something new.


At a glance, Parker’s art may seem chaotic and abstract, but at a closer look, one can see the descriptive and meticulous details within the artwork. Rodin’s and Parker’s sculpture, The Distance (A Kiss with String Attached), has a deeper meaning than just a mile of string wrapped around two people. The mile-of-string “is an allusion to a famous prank played by the pioneering French avant-garde artist Marcel Duchamp,” who webbed an exhibit with a mile-long string to make “it extremely awkward to walk around and see the show” (Grovier 4). Parker also strategically wraps the string to “accentuate” parts of the sculpture while also “obscure” familiar parts of it.


Cold Dark Matter, considered to be Parker’s best work: An Exploded View, was created by exploding a gardening shed in 1991. By assembling numerous fragments from garden tools, paint pots, broken glass, and twisted bicycles, she creates the image of a distorted explosion.



The works that Parker makes are completely exceptional and characterized by the unusual materials that make them up. One sees either complete disorder or meticulous details inside her masterpieces. Regardless, Cornelia Parker is one of the most extraordinary artists of her time.

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