Pan Am Public Art: Art Across Borders Artist

William Y. Cooper

Project: Black Woman as Warrior, five-panel mural, each panel will be 8-ft. tall by 4-ft. wide.

Site 6: Langston Hughes Institute, 25 High Street

Black Woman as Warrior celebrates courageous Black women who have accomplished much against great odds in the fight for the freedom and dignity of African people. Each 8x4 ft. panel is "a visual metaphor for Ida B. Wells (a civil rights activist), Harriet Tubman (a heroic conductor of the Underground Railroad), Fannie Lou Hames (a sharecropper who fought for the right to vote), Marva Collins (an innovative educator), and Maxine Waters (a U.S. Congresswoman). A brief biographical and historical description of each woman portrayed has been placed under each painted panel.

William Y. Cooper received a BFA from the University at Buffalo and is NYS Certified Art Teacher. In 1997 he received the Annual Professional Artist Award from the Arts Council of Buffalo & Erie County, one of the highest distinctions an artist may receive in this region.

Since 1971 Mr. Cooper has had five solo exhibitions in
Buffalo, Niagara Falls and the National Art Gallery, Accra, Ghana, West Africa. His work has been shown in group exhibitions across the country in cities such as Buffalo, Tonawanda, Niagara Falls, Olean, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Albany, Schenectady, Birmingham, Alabama; and in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, Canada. He is an experienced muralist and has produced three commissioned public works in Buffalo: "I Have a Dream:" Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a mural at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch Public Library in Buffalo (1982); Centennial Mural for the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers (1991); and a mural for the Tri-Main/ArtSpace.

Mr. Cooper states: "I am an Afrocentric artist. My world view is rooted in an African frame of reference and a deep, abiding sense of the creator from whence I draw my inspiration, strength and a sense of who I am. Thematically and stylistically, my works are a fusion of two cultures: my American experience and my African heritage….My work is conceptual, subjective and highly metaphorical. The use of symbols allows me to explore literal ideas. I believe that art is the creative expression of our experiences, and probably the noblest expression of the human spirit. If so, then art must embody the highest ideals and aspirations of humankind."

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