In the mid-1970s, Parsons also returned to making sculpture, her first medium. Gathering flotsam and jetsam on the beach adjacent to her Long Island studio, where she spent nearly every weekend from 1959 on, became a ritual. She’d assemble these spoils into small sculptures resembling ritualistic objects, masks, and miniature homes.
These works are more than Parsons’s swan song (she made them until her death in 1982). They are also her most innovative and intimate work. In them, she combines objects culled from the Long Island landscape that not only became her refuge from the frenetic, itinerant life of a prominent gallerist, but also the quiet sanctuary where she did what she liked to do best: make art.
“I’d rather paint than breathe,” Parsons once said. “I don’t care if anybody sees what I do.…Painting is part of me.”
Arguably, Parsons’s work is the most important part of her. And, with “Invisible Presence,” it looks like the art world is finally on the path to recognizing that—and etching Parson’s life as an artist indelibly into her legacy.