Contemporary Artist from New York Travels to YSU

By Victoria Remley

Diana Cooper, one of the most well-known interdisciplinary artists today, taught Youngstown State University art students about uncommon art practices and interdisciplinary art in her lecture on Oct. 24.

Cooper, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., combines sculpture, photography, painting and drawing in her artwork. Dragana Crnjak, associate professor of art, invited Cooper to YSU.

“We are very focused on interdisciplinary thinking and interdisciplinary making,” she said. “We really try to expose students and sort of teach them and show them that art is not this restrictive way of working or this restrictive discipline.”

Cooper visually and conceptually investigates the different systems humans occupy. She focuses on science, math and biology, among other things.

Photo courtesy of Diana Cooper

Crnjak said artwork can reflect anything and working with art can be done in a variety of ways. YSU’s art department tries to encourage students to think in an open-ended, curious way. Faculty wants students to be brave and experimental.

Cooper’s lecture also taught students about art form in a new and uncommon perspective. Crnjak said students will be inspired by someone who is not afraid to work outside of these preconceived notions.

“We try to bring artists who do that and who have a proven record of doing that,” she said.

Cooper’s work reflected doodle-based drawings. The drawings were both a process and the production of an image, represented imaginary systems and acted as a flowchart for an imaginary world.

“Most of the time, I’m interested in defamiliarizing you or disorienting your relationship to the everyday world,” Cooper said. “The work is very colorful and there’s also humor. It can be quite playful, and for me, the imagination and idea of a serious type of play are very important.”

People interested in contemporary art, abstraction or who simply want to learn something new would have enjoyed Cooper’s lecture. She discussed her life as an artist through her artwork.

Cooper also teaches at Columbia University, and thought it would be interesting to speak to other college students.

“Often, I look forward to the question and answer period,” she said. “I’m also doing some studio visits with some of the graduate students, I believe, and I’m looking forward to that and meeting students and having a conversation.”

Alexis Herrick, a digital media major, found the lecture interesting.

“I really liked all her examples that she had. I thought they demonstrated what she was talking about really well visually,” she said.

Naomi Carrier, a sophomore digital media major, enjoyed the Doodle Art portion of the lecture.

“I thought it was cool. I really liked her Doodle Art because there’s a lot of variety of lines and colors,” she said.

Micheline Cleaves, a junior photography major, found the lecture to be unexpected. She said she thought it was interesting to see the values and textures of what materials she used.

“Her interests were all different from what we experienced,” she said.