Mary Tooley Parker is a textile maker. Her artwork focuses on realistic interpretations of people and nature, whether from memories, local history, or visual images. Incorporated in her work are new and recycled wool, cotton, and silk fabric, fleece, handspun yarn, silk fiber, metallic fibers, and more. She uses natural and synthetic dyes to create colors as needed.
Textile art is received by the viewer in a different way than fine art, and there is science showing that a different part of the brain is stimulated when viewing a textile. It appeals to the senses, especially touch, and gives a feeling of warmth and familiarity before the brain even registers the visual image. Working in the simple medium of rug hooking affords Parker a strong connection not only to the fibers running through her fingertips, but also to the women who used this medium and other fiber mediums to express themselves during difficult times and with limited materials. Using this medium as a creative expression of her 21st century experience, she carries this tradition into the contemporary art world by taking the work off the floor to be viewed as art.