Laura McPhee


Laura McPhee is a photographer who has worked, most recently, in the woods of Idaho, New York City, and Kolkata, India. Born in Manhattan, she grew up toward the end of a dirt road in central New Jersey. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Princeton University in 1980, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1986. McPhee was awarded a Fulbright Scholars Fellowship in 1998 for work in India and Sri Lanka and a residency in Idaho from Alturas Foundation 2003-2005. She was also awarded a New England Foundation for the Arts fellowship in 1995 and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship in 1993.


Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Getty Center, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many others.


Artist Statement on The Home and the World: A View of Calcutta


Kolkata’s extraordinary domestic architecture (particularly the 18th and 19th century houses of the zamindars of North Kolkata, a caste of landowners made rich by the Company) tells the story of past and present, of the evolution from colony to independence and beyond. The houses were built by Indians for Indians (rather than by the British for the British) and they follow their own unique architectural conventions that reflect both domestic customs and religious use. The households I photographed consist of unusual amalgams of internationally derived architectural styles overlaid by details of family life and personal history seen in the objects that adorn the rooms. These spaces speak to the vicissitudes of economic life and of time, to incipient globalization, to the blending of history with contemporary living, to family and changing traditions, and to the long and complex material and political relationship between India and the west.


Grants & Awards

2009  Massachusetts College of Arts & Design Faculty Fellowship

2008-09  Van Alen Institute, New York (Commission)

2007  Camargo Foundation (Residency), Cassis France

2006  Peter Reed Foundation Grant

2003-04  Alturas Foundation (Commission)

1998  Fulbright Scholars’ Fellowship to India and Sri Lanka

1995  New England Foundation for the Arts Fellowship

1993  John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship

1989, 90-91  Polaroid Artists Support Grant, Polaroid Corporation

1984  New Jersey Council for the Arts Grant

1980  Page Award for Exceptional Achievement in the Visual Arts, Princeton University,    Princeton, NJ

Selected Collections

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

J. Paul Getty Center Museum, Los Angeles, CA

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX

Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA

Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH

The Art Museum, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Davis Museum, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA

Spencer Art Museum, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

List Visual Arts Center, MIT, Cambridge, MA

The Art Museum, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME

Reader’s Digest Corporate Collection, Pleasantville, NY

Polaroid Corporation, Cambridge, MA

Princeton University Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton, NJ

Mercer County Cultural & Heritage Commission, Trenton, NJ

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