"Architecture is supposed to keep us safe. To achieve this simple directive, we must navigate a complex system which effects both our personal and cultural psyches. We share experiences of a built environment colored by personal, political and practical realities that often feel simultaneously antagonistic and comforting. I make paintings and drawings that engage the visual tropes of contemporary spaces to reveal and revise the stories embedded in the environments we build."

—Erik Parra


Erik Richard Parra was born and raised in El Paso, TX. He holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Art degree in painting from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s of Fine Art degree in painting, completed while on fellowship at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. After graduate school he lived, worked and exhibited in Brooklyn, NY. 


Erik Parra has exhibited internationally in alternative spaces, commercial galleries and museums. He has mounted solo exhibitions in San Francisco, Portland and Reno and group exhibitions in Berlin, Brazil, Los Angeles, London and New York. In the Bay Area Erik’s work has been exhibited at the Headlands Center for the Arts, Southern Exposure, and Berkeley Art Center. His work is widely held in private and corporate collections in the US and abroad. Erik’s work has been included in publications including New American Paintings, the SF Bay Guardian and the LA Times. Additionally, Erik teaches at the California College of the Arts and City College of San Francisco. He has garnered residencies and awards including the Hopper Prize, a Liquitex Research Residency and most recently he was awarded a residency at Iris Project Residency in Los Angeles. 


Born 1975, El Paso, TX.



2004 Master of Fine Arts, Studio Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI. 

1999 Bachelor of Fine ArtsStudio Art, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX. 


Selected Exhibitions 



2023 Erik Parra Maybaum Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2022 Erik Parra Maybaum Gallery, San Francisco, CA

 2020 Insides Out, Eleanor Harwood Gallery, San Francisco, CA. 

2018 History by Choice, Eleanor Harwood Gallery, San Francisco, CA. 

2016 In The Same River Twice, State Space, San Francisco, CA. 

2015 Each Devil His Own, Transmission Gallery, Oakland, CA.

2013 Capturing the Void, Nisus Gallery, Portland OR.

2013 This: A Contemporary Situation, Sheppard Contemporary and University Galleries

University of Nevada Reno, Reno, NV.

2012 West Facing- Truesilver Gallery, San Francisco, CA.

2010 Between Currencies- Johansson Projects, Oakland, CA.

2009 Marvels of Construction- Online Exhibit at Beefmaster Gallery and Project Space    http://www.beefmastermagazine.com/

2004 This Paradise Spell- MFA Thesis exhibit Seventh Floor Gallery, Madison, WI.



2024 We Just Wanna Be Somebody Someday, Hooper Atrium Gallery, California College of the Arts, San  Francisco, CA

2023 Prêt à Placer, Anglim Trimble, San Francisco, CA.

2023  Architecture in Contemporary Art, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Ana, CA.

 2023 Portrait of the Artist as a Young Person, Hooper Atrium Gallery, California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA.
2023  Art in Architecture, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA.
2022 Trying Harder, OPENS Gallery, Portland, OR.
2022 Living Things:Artists and Their Objects of Affection, SFArtsEd Gallery, San  Franicso, CA.
2022  Erik Parra & Erika Lee Sears, Maybaum Gallery, San Francisco, CA.
  2021 11th Annual Anniversary Group Exhibition, Incline Gallery, San Francisco CA.

2021 On Location: Artists Explore a Sense of Place, Peninsula School of Art, Fish Creek,WI. 

2021 48 Pillars, Arc Gallery, San Francisco, CA.  

2020 Art Made in Quarantine, Instagram, Curated by Paddy Johnson. 

2020 Ransom 2, Brooklyn Wayfarers, Brooklyn, NY. 

2020 The Future of Space 2020, A+D Museum, Los Angeles, CA. 

2020 Chain Reaction 13. San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, CA.

2020 Sea/ Change 2020, SF Arts Ed Gallery, Minnesota St. Projects, San Francisco, CA.

2019 Bazaar: A Group Exhibition of Small Works, Marrow Gallery, San Francisco,CA.

2019 The Space Between, Marrow Gallery, San Francisco, CA.

2018 The Plant Show, Swim Gallery, San Francisco, CA.

2018 Mixed Tape, Mom and Pop Art Shop, Richmond, CA. 

2017 Framework: Elements of Architecture, North Seattle College Art Gallery, Seattle,WA.

2016 How to Build A Foghorn, Samuel Freeman Gallery, LA, CA.

2016 Perpetual Sunset, 2731 Prospect Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH. 

2015 Botanica: All Things Plant Life, Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek, CA. 

2015 Not Much to Look At: New Ugly Paintings, The Royal Nonesuch Gallery, Oakland,CA. 

2014 Make Space, Berkley Art Center, Berkley, CA.

2014 MAS ATTACK 6, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA.

2013 This Will Never Work, Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA.

2013 Ransom, Brooklyn Wayfarers, Brooklyn, NY.

2013 Paperworks, BJ Spoke Gallery, Huntington NY.

2013 A 2ND Show, Purple Pop-Up Gallery, El Paso, TX.  

2012 The End, Big Medium Gallery, Austin, TX. Curated by Cantanker Magazine.  

2012 Myths of Progress, Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CA. Curated by Lauren Davies.

2011 Juried Annual 2012- PROARTS, Oakland, CA. Juried by Hamza Walker.

2011 Chain Letter- Samson Projects, Boston, MA.

2011 Wild Country- Space Gallery, San Francisco, CA.

2011 The Letter Collector- Gallery Hijinks, San Francisco, CA.

2010 Taste 2010: A Garden of Earthly Delights- Root Division, San Francisco, CA.

2010 Inaugural Flat File Exhibition- Golden Parachutes, Golden Parachutes, Berlin, DE.

2009 Salon09- Matt Roberts Arts, London, UK.

2009 Formations- Blankspace Gallery, Oakland, CA.

2009 Front + Center –Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA. 

2007 Grounded- Southern Exposure San Francisco, CA. Curated by Kristan Kennedey.

2006 Works on Paper - Flux Factory, Long Island City. Queens, NY. 

2005 Point-to-Multipoint- Elsewhere Artist Collaborative, Greensboro,NC. 

2005 Corporate Bodies- Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY. 

2005 NOVA: Young Art Fair- Chicago, IL. 


Selected Awards & Honors  

2020 Research Fellowship. The Internet Archive (summer).

2018 The Hopper Prize, Grant Winner (spring).

2012 Nominated as a Candidate for San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SECA (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art) Award.

2010 Creative Capital Professional Development Program, Nominated by Southern Exposure.

2002 Second Place, El Paso Art Association Arts International Exhibit. 

2001 Advanced Opportunity Fellowship, University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

1997, 1998 College of Fine Arts Dean’s List, Fall, Spring. 


Artist Residencies 

2020 Iris Project Residency, Los Angeles, CA. September.

2018 Liquitex Research Residency, San Francisco, CA. (December 2017, through January 2018).

2013 Sheppard Contemporary and University Galleries, University of Nevada, Reno.October 11, through 18, 2013.

2005 Elsewhere Artist Collaborative, Greensboro, NC. (July 31- August 31, 2005).


Selected Bibliography


Charmaine Koh, Shotgun Review, Erik Parra: History By Choice at Eleanor HarwoodGallery, Art Practical,  May 08, 2018.

Christian Frock, Gallery Highlights, SF Arts Monthly, April 2018.

Christopher Knight, “Uncharted Seas in ‘How to Build a Foghorn” at Samuel FreemanGallery”, Los Angeles Times August 12, 2016.

New American Paintings, Juried Exhibitions in Print, Issue #115, Pacific CoastCompetition, December 2014- January 2015.  

DeWitt Cheng, “Out and About at Zughaus, Krowswork, and WE Artspace”, East Bay Express, April 20-26, 2011.

Sam Stander, “Pick of the Week”, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, vol.44, no. 43, July

28- August 3, 2010.

Emmanuel Hapsis and Kristin Farr, Studio Invasion, KQED Arts, September 04, 2010,


“MomentaArt 2004/2005 Catalogue,” MomentaArt Brooklyn, NY2005.



Beyond the Studio, Podcast, Interview with Amanda Adams and Nicole Mueller,Season 2, Episode 13 March 21, 2019.

KALX Berkeley, Arts in Review, Interview with Svea Vikander, Berkeley, CA, January7,2016.

Congratulations Pine Tree, Podcast, Interview with Kate Rhoades and MaysounWazwaz, SF, CA July 6, 2016.


Selected Visiting Artist Lectures 

2019 Stanford University, Stanford, California, February 6.

2015 Stamford American International School—Singapore, SG, February 07.

2014 University of San Francisco—San Francisco, CA, September 10.

2013 Portland Community College-- Portland, OR, December 3.

2011 University of Wisconsin—Madison- Madison, WI, October 22.


Selected Permanent Collections

Fannie Mae, San Francisco, CA.

Stanford University, Stanford, CA.