Tuesday, October 1, 2013

INSPIRE ME! Artist of Month: Dan Cooper

"Science, particularly theoretical physics, 
intertwines with my experience and faith." 
~DAN COOPER
By Ernest Disney-Britton

When the Board of Alpha & Omega Project for Contemporary Religious Arts decided to launch an inaugural exhibition featuring works by Hoosiers, Dan Cooper was one of those at the top of the list. There is one Methodist on the board, and he wanted to include a Believer whose work would help to introduce part of the history of that tradition, but to do it in a non-traditional way. Dan's work does just that. Methodists are a denomination that came out of the Protestant Reformation, and is characterized by its emphasis on the average person. I think Dan's work does that well. It's an honor to share his story, and his work as an INSPIRE ME! Artist for 2013.

"Self-protrait" (2013) by Dan Cooper
1.  What is your faith tradition, and how does it impact your art? I was raised a Methodist and, after a long absence and years of studying & practicing spiritual beliefs, became an active member with Castleton United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. My faith has always been an integral part of the story contained in my body of work. Science, particularly theoretical physics, intertwines with my experience and faith. A consistent theme is symbolized using realistic imagery to express abstract concepts.
"Super String Theory" by Dan Cooper
2.  Describe your artwork. What style or genre is it? Acrylic on canvas, sometimes combined with digital, and collaborative art videos are media I love working with. My paintings are not of a particularly named genre. The closest example would be German Romanticism of the early 1800s especially Caspar David Freidrich but with a contemporary flair. Natural Symbolism based on a Midwest sensibility.
"Burn 3: Reflection" (2011) by Dan Cooper
3.  Have you ever had to defend exploring religious ideas? No. This question made me think the longest. I encourage people to talk about their beliefs as they try to figure out what a painting’s story means to them. My art/public relationships have always been positive.
"Spring/Winter" (2012) by Dan Cooper
4.  Who collects your work, and why? People become emotionally attached to a painting and would like to own a painting by me. Some people have learned that when they commission me for a painting they’ll get something special. Private collectors are scattered throughout the country. Paintings in corporate collections are among other fine art and not decorative or commercial works.
"Seasons: Tree" (2012) by Dan Cooper
5.  What "risks" have you taken in creating your work? Just being an artist is a risk. Being yourself and exposing your soul to the world is a risk. I share a message of rebirth, continuous life, infinite possibilities, and universal love. I risk a limited audience for that story, but I have mastered a quality of craftsmanship to at least capture attention long enough to make most viewers think and feel - I hope. Is hoping risky?
"Going Somewhere Else" (2012) by Dan Cooper
6.  What other artists have influenced your work? Art Influences include Joy Cooper, my grandmother who early on encouraged me to create in multiple ways, Pablo Picasso for his genius and continuous growth; Henri Matisse for composition; Marcel Duchamp for philosophy and lifestyle; Maxfield Parrish for color and technique; Caspar David Friedrich for natural symbolism; and Ellie Siskind for friendship and wisdom.
"Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog" (1818) by Caspar David Friedrich
7.  How can A&O readers collect/experience your work? The easiest way to experience my art is to visit http://CooperFineArt.com and https://youtube.com/ArtistDanC otherwise I show in regional juried exhibits and one-person shows locally (Indianapolis). Collecting can start by visiting my site, contacting me, and preparing for an adventure.
"Self -portrait" (2013) by Daneil Cooper
I conclude with a return to the role of the Methodist church in the United States, as the goal for Alpha Omega Arts has always been to strengthen ties with other religious traditions. They are in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); and in dialogue with the Episcopal Church, according to Wikipedia.  Dan lives in Indianapolis, and I hope you will search him out in your own journey to strengthen ties with other religious traditions through the arts. He can be reached at Dan(at)CooperFineArt.com, and I encourage you to see his work in this November's exhibition at Indiana Interchurch Center, "Alpha & Omega: Religious Risks" (Nov. 1-29, 2013).