Julia F. Parker
Parker in 2007
Graton Rancheria, California
|Nationality||Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria|
|Education||Lucy Telles, Mabel McKay, Elsie Allen|
|Known for||basket weaver|
|Movement||indigenous Californian basketry|
|Patron(s)||Queen Elizabeth II|
Parker studied with some of the leading 20th century indigenous Californian basketweavers: Lucy Telles (Yosemite Miwok-Mono Lake Paiute); Mabel McKay, (Cache Creek Pomo-Patwin) and Elsie Allen (Cloverdale Pomo). Over the last 40 years, Parker has become one of the preeminent Native American basket makers in California. A respected elder of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and long-time resident of Yosemite Valley, Parker is prolific artist, teacher, and storyteller.
Julia Parker was born in February 1929 in Graton Rancheria, California. Her father was Coast Miwok, and her mother was Kashaya Pomo. They both died when Parker was still young, so she and her siblings were sent to a Native American boarding school. In 1945, when Parker was 17 years old, she married Ralph Parker. Ralph, grandson of Lucy Telles, is thought to be the last fullblood Mono Lake Paiute. The couple moved to Yosemite, where Parker began her studies of basketry with Telles.
Since 1960, Parker has worked as a cultural specialist at the Yosemite Museum and interprets the cultural history of Yosemite Valley tribes to park visitors. She demonstrates basket weaving and acorn processing. She has taught and lectured across the United States at universities, cultural centers, and schools. She has traveled to Alaska, Hawaii, and Australia to meet with indigenous artists and has been invited by numerous museums, including the National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center in New York City, to consult with specialists about collections stored in their facilities.
Exhibitions and awards
In 2004, Parker's work was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition, The Past in Present Tense: Four Decades of Julia Parker Baskets, installed at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek. In the same year she was featured in a segment of KQED’s program Spark.
Parker’s work is in permanent collections of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; the Yosemite Museum, Yosemite National Park; the Norwegian Ski Association headquarters, Oslo, Norway; the private collection of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom; and numerous other private collections.
In 2006, California College of the Arts conferred an honorary doctorate to Parker, and in 2007 she was a recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States' highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.
Valoma, Deborah. Scrape the Willow until It Sings: The Words and Work of Basket Maker Julia Parker (Hey Day Press, San Francisco)
- "Julia F. Parker." California Baskets. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- SFGate (October 01, 2004), Walnut Creek: Basket weaver represents best of American Indian tradition
- KQED Arts (May 2004) Julia Parker Profile
- CCA News (April 19, 2006) CCA to Confer Honorary Doctorates on Julia Florence Parker and Richard Tuttle
- National Endowment of the Arts (2007) 2007 NEA National Heritage Fellow Julia Parker Profile
- Tom Pich (2009). "Picture Perfect: Portraits of NEA National Heritage Fellows". NEA Arts Magazine. National Endowment for the Arts (Vol 3). Archived from the original on 2011-05-24.