Don Cooper, This Moment as It is: A Connection to the Whole
2007/2008 Working Artist Project (WAP)
Exhibition Dates: August 8 – September 20, 2008
The MOCA GA 2007/2008 Working Artist Project selected by Jeffrey Grove, Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, High Museum of Art and Andrea Barnwell-Brownlee, Director, Spelman Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta.
About Don Cooper
Don Cooper (b. 1944 in Belton, Texas) grew up in Georgia and has lived primarily in Atlanta since 1976. He received his MFA from the University of Georgia and is the recipient of a Fulbright Artist Grant, a MOCA GA Working Artist Project Grant and the Judith Alexander Artadia Award. He has had thirty-one solo exhibitions and 70 group exhibitions. His work is in the collection of the Albright Knox Gallery, the High Museum of Art, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, MOCA GA, Coca-Cola USA, and the Morris Museum of Southern Art. His meditative, ritualistic paintings and digital images are inspired by universal symbols such as the bindu, a Sanskrit term for a central dot which represents consciousness, being and the sacred point of origin and return.
ABOUT This Moment as It is: A Connection to the Whole
“The course of Don Cooper’s work over the past 20 years has had as its magnetic center a curiosity about the customs, arts and culture of the Far East. Cooper’s interest in things Asian started in grade school where a large 3-D map of Asia graced the wall of his classroom and deepened later through his experiences while serving in Viet Nam and traveling in Japan, China and India. The rich metaphors for the sacred as seen in Buddhism, Tantra and Hinduism have consistently lit the canvases and watercolors he has created.
From the early 1990s Coopers work contained images of luminous human and animal figures in watery forests that were soon followed by serene Buddhas. These too were replaced with more symbolic images of the sacred; the Buddha’s Hand and the lotus flower come to mind. Cooper’s travels in China on the deep and whirlpool ridden surface of the Yangtze River evoked for him writings in ancient texts depicting a Cosmic Egg that “floated in the Primordial Sea for over One Thousand Years.” The center of the Cosmic Egg is represented by a single dot, the Bindu, the seed of the Original Creation. Of the many definitions given for this dot, I found this one to be the most comprehensive:
The Bindu is a sacred point of origin and return with concentric circles symbolizing the eternal cycles of cosmic involution and evolution. Yantra p.132
In the metaphysical sense, Cooper’s work has evolved from more dense energetic representations to more and more refined presenting us now with this ancient image of The One Eternal Infinite. The Bindu represented as such, becomes a kind of Yantra or energy diagram, through which the viewer may “travel” to another plane of awareness. The spiritual seeker may use such a symbol to help focus as he aspires towards his own involution to the Center, the “ultimate point of psycho-cosmic integration”, where he discovers his link with the Whole. Ultimately, he learns that just as the dot signifies, there is no journey to be taken, only to awaken to the ever-present Truth of The Moment As It Is and in doing so know himself as the Whole.
It is not my understanding that Cooper set out intending to take such a journey but rather was drawn into it by his curiosity about the Bindu. Or one could say that he was drawn by the symbol itself. Once he painted the first Bindu in this series, he was pulled into the work as if by a vortex on the Primordial Sea.
The artist puts it this way:
I am not reluctant to say that I am addicted to painting this image. Before I get down to the studio every morning I am already into the painting. There is no irony or angst in them. If they illustrate anything it is the way they made themselves…a ritual. I used the same approach to each one but had no concept as to its end. The painting carried me where it wanted me to go.”
– Judy Barber (taken from catalogue essay)