Barbara Cooper: Green Artist, Green Lifestyle

Babara Cooper Folia
Folia. Photo credit Eileen Ryan.

Artist Barbara Cooper creates sculptures from sheets of wood veneer that factories have tossed away. She then shapes this discarded material into forms that remind you where the material comes from — trees.

Today when our abuse of the environment is becoming increasingly visible and publicly decried, Barbara's works, in addition to their visual pleasure, carry a message that says to me: pay attention.

I visited Barbara the other day not just to look at her sculptures but also to document other lesser known aspects of her daily practice. She lives and works in a house built in 1893. Her touch is found all over the house — instead of tearing out and replacing things, she repairs and beautifies what is there.

Kitchen has the original equipment
Kitchen has the original sink. BC built the
cabinet with the black trim and the counter
.
Shelves BC made for storing veg
Shelves from recylced wood that BC made
for storing vegetables and stuff for recycling
.

Barbara is what I would call a green artist, as she is constantly recycling, re-inventing, repairing, and re-using items in her daily life. She fuses art and life in an unusual way that is responsible, poetic, beautiful, thoughtful, and artistic.

BC made a counter top
BC made a counter top from an old oak table top found in the alley.

I asked Barbara to explain what this way of life means to her, why she goes through the trouble of doing what she does, and if she sees her way of life as a part of her art practice.

Growing up, I was always intrigued by how my father could take apart almost anything and get it to work again. My family also lived with a sense of frugality, which I see as mirroring the efficiency in nature, where there is little waste, and one state of life and material transforms into another. This process of transformation lies at the heart of what my art is.

I find the world of nature truly amazing. I could never invent anything as complex and beautiful as what I find already existing, and where form and function are so perfectly integrated. Out of respect for this amazing and vast system, my goal is to leave as small a footprint as possible. I try to think carefully about how I use resources and try to have a considered sensibility permeate every aspect of my life. To be alive is to be aware of our senses.

Barbara Cooper is represented by Alfedena Gallery.

Chair found in the alley
BC found the chair in the alley and provided a new seat,
and wove the rag rug from old curtains, bedspreads, etc.
Clothes line made by BC
Homemade clothes line where laundry is dried whenever possible.
The cobble stone patio was installed by BC, who picked up
stones from Ashland Avenue when the street was dug up.
Hooks made from cypress
Hooks made from Cypress knees. The wood
board is a basement wall that was removed.
Kitchen waste
Kitchen waste given a bit of water from
a barrel that collects rainwater from the roof.
Barrel was orignally from the bourbon industry
.
Mixin up
Mixing up kitchen and garden waste for composting
that will turn into fertile soil for the garden
.
Vegetable garden
Raised beds of the vegetable garden is made
with bricks salvaged from torn-down houses
.
Garden shed
Garden shed, made with wood taken out of basement when it was re-built.

For more of Barbara Cooper's artwork, click here ArtStyle Blog Gallery.

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