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Studio Visit - Alison Cooley

Studio Visit - Alison Cooley

Studio visit with Alison Cooley

Alison Cooley is a Washington native currently residing in London, England. Her detailed works explore everything from the daily interactions of people to the effects of the weather. Her most recent series, Chirographs, uses lines and forms to create a sort of ancient language that invites the viewer to come up with his or her own interpretation. 

Q.

What is the primary question art is addressing today? What questions do you address?

A.

Art allows people to connect with experiences that may not be their own, and right now, that’s vital.  Imagination is fundamentally about going somewhere, being something you are not already. Art has the potential to transform by eroding the walls of intolerance and isolation.

 

Q.

Other than the genre you work in, what other types of art do you most enjoy?

A.

Music. It’s an essential component to my practice and brings pleasure to almost anything.  I just saw a beautiful selection of musical manuscripts at the Morgan Library — the notations were so personal. It’s remarkable that these modest, bobbing markings and swoops create the skeleton for an invisible sound experience.  

 

Q.

What artist has given you the best advice? What was it?

A.

I heard Cecily Brown speak and she said that drawing creates the muscle memory for painting. I love that. 

 

Q.

Do you remember the first piece you created which you felt was a “work of art,” and what was it?

A.

A really enormous ink drawing of a field.  It was 14 feet high and to took a tremendous amount of time…so long that I felt that I was floating away then returning to the conscious process.  It was a perfect cocktail of discipline and flow state.  

  

Q.

How do you move past a creative block when you run out of ideas?

A.

I’m not sure you ever run out of ideas. The short answer is go to work, never turn away, there’s always something growing in the garden.

  

Q.

How has your art changed from when you first started creating?

A.

My work was deeply informed by landscape for many years…the horizon was a vital element. Now my work is much more organic, lots of undulation, oscillation, atmosphere…and the horizon has vanished.

  

Q.

Price aside, is there a particular art object you would like to possess?

A.

I’d be very happy with a Lisa Yuskavage picture.

Q.

Who are some of the artists working today that you look to for inspiration or admire?

A.

Lately I’ve been drawn to three dimensional work — Stephane Gautier, Sarah Sze, Tara Donovan.

  

Q.

Do you have a particular philosophy on life?

A.

Be kind.

 

Q.

We're excited about this new series of paintings! Tell us a little bit about these new works you’ve been creating, what's the story? 

A.

I’ve always been attracted to drawing and marking in painting. In my latest work, I’m creating a kind of written visual language that’s my own but is open to interpretation by the viewer. It’s like a “secret language” that I create in line, form and tone that I want people to read in their own way.

 

I’ve been looking at artists who use molten glass on paper (pyrography) and at the same time realized I was making my own “ancient language.” I love the sound of the word “chirograph” which refers to the study of writing by hand (chiro-) and also to medieval contracts. My own chirographs are language markings that are a two-way contract with the viewer.

  

Q.

What is your favorite quote?

A.

“All my smooth body” - the ghost in Hamlet.

  

Q.

What makes you laugh no matter what? 

A.

Keyboard Cat

 

Q.

Whats the first thing you do when you begin formulating an idea for a painting?

A.

Build a new playlist to create a gateway. Since I often work in a series, I edit and change the playlist as I move from one piece to the next.  In a way I am developing a soundtrack to my process, an audible experience that echoes and inspires the work

  

Q.

What does creativity mean to you?

A.

Being radically open to your senses and experiences. 

   

Advice to aspiring artists

"You are your best self and worst enemy in the studio…find the space right on the edge and go with it."

Q.

Tell us about some of your favorite artists?

A.

Recently I saw Cecily Brown speak at the National Gallery of Art and I loved hearing about how referencing the past informs her paintings.  Her sources included a wide reaching range of artists including Goya, Hogarth, Bruegel, among others.  Continuity is a such a big theme for me and “quoting” from the past is an intriguing and rich part of process.  I draw from so many different places — Nathan Oliveira, John Singer Sargent, Bernini, Miro.

  

Q.

What's something you can't do? 

A.

It’s weird, but I am awful at opening small packages so I have dozens of pairs of scissors around my studio and kitchen to snip open bags, boxes and cases. I’ll even cut an avocado with scissors. 

  

Q.

What's one thing you've always wanted to try but you've been too scared to do?

A.

Take flying lessons.

 

Q.

When do you make your best work?

A.

In the morning after a long walk outside. 

 

Q.

Is art making therapeutic for you?

A.

Yes, It’s essential for me and a key part of how I experience the world.

  

Q.

If you could travel anywhere to create for a while, where would you go?

A.

St. Petersburg, Russia.

 

Q.

What’s your studio philosophy?

A.

Just show up and work.

 

Q.

How many hours do you try and work in the studio per week?

A.

30-40 hrs.

 

Q.

Silence or sound while creating? If sound, what?

A.

Music is intertwined with my work, when I’m not painting, I am engaged in making playlists and discovering music that might take me on a new voyage.  Back in the day, I made some masterpiece mix tapes which I still have even though I don’t have a tape player.

 

Q.

What's the most adventurous thing you've done? 

A.

Pack up my family and move overseas.

 

Q.

Tools or mediums you’re dying to experiment with?

A.

Heat or wax.

 

Q.

What's next?

A.

We’ll see!

About Alison Cooley

Cooley's work acts as a collective portraiture, capturing the shifting fronts and clouds of humans moving through and around each other, leaving elements in their wake.

 

Read More

 

EXPLORE

We invite you to explore our curated collection of minimal artworks by Tappan artists.

 

Explore Now

Tidal 9174 Tidal 9174
Tidal 9174
from $ 600.00
Tidal 9173 Tidal 9173
Tidal 9173
from $ 600.00 Sold
Tidal 9172 Tidal 9172
Tidal 9172
from $ 600.00 Sold
Tidal 9171 Tidal 9171
Tidal 9171
from $ 600.00
Tidal 9170 Tidal 9170
Tidal 9170
from $ 600.00 Sold
Tidal 8179 Tidal 8179
Tidal 8179
from $ 900.00 Sold
Tidal 8178 Tidal 8178
Tidal 8178
from $ 900.00 Sold
Tidal 8172 Tidal 8172
Tidal 8172
from $ 750.00 Sold
Chirograph 8 Chirograph 8
Chirograph 8
from $ 1,300.00
Chirograph 7 Chirograph 7
Chirograph 7
from $ 1,300.00 Sold
Chirograph 5 Chirograph 5
Chirograph 5
from $ 1,300.00 Sold
Chirograph 3 Chirograph 3
Chirograph 3
from $ 1,300.00 Sold
Chirograph 2 Chirograph 2
Chirograph 2
from $ 1,300.00
Chirograph 1 Chirograph 1
Chirograph 1
from $ 1,300.00 Sold
Rougeuse Rougeuse
Rougeuse
from $ 1,200.00 Sold
Sweet Phantom Sweet Phantom
Sweet Phantom
from $ 1,200.00 Sold
Tidal 8176 Tidal 8176
Tidal 8176
from $ 750.00 Sold
Tidal 8177 Tidal 8177
Tidal 8177
from $ 900.00 Sold
Tidal 9178 (Diptych) Tidal 9178 (Diptych)
Tidal 9178 (Diptych)
from $ 1,700.00 Sold
Tidal 9179 (Diptych) Tidal 9179 (Diptych)
Tidal 9179 (Diptych)
from $ 2,400.00 Sold
Tidal 8181 Tidal 8181
Tidal 8181
from $ 800.00 Sold
Tidal 8182 Tidal 8182
Tidal 8182
from $ 800.00 Sold
Tidal 7170 Tidal 7170
Tidal 7170
from $ 800.00
Tidal 7171 Tidal 7171
Tidal 7171
from $ 800.00
Tidal 7172 Tidal 7172
Tidal 7172
from $ 800.00 Sold

About Alison Cooley

Alison Cooley was born in Washington, DC and studied painting at Sarah Lawrence College. Cooley’s atmospheric abstraction draws on material juxtapositions and a language of repetitive markings, ink blooms, etchings, and organic elements to explore the beautiful, continuous cycles of the natural world. Symbols in the paintings replicate, change, fade, and return through the work creating a subtle tension that examines themes of compliance and resistance, harmony and dissonance, certainty and illusion. Cooley’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in New York, Washington, Richmond, and Toronto.

STATEMENT

“Growing up in Washington, with its specifically humid climate, I was always attuned to atmospheres and changing weather patterns. It’s basically what I paint. Most recently I’ve taken this ambient abstraction into a much more intimate zone - an exploration of daily, mostly anonymous, interactions. So often we are thrown into surprising intimacy with strangers and the encounter is visceral. The scent of a wet coat, the recognition of a song leaking from ear buds, the unexpected look at a shaving cut can momentarily engage us in a stranger’s world. A passerby may stun us with an unexpected phrase, captivate us with whimsical makeup, or bury us deep in shadow like a thunderhead. The throwaway exchanges between people navigating a city - invasive and vulnerable, connected yet disconnected - build intricate, fleeting microclimates. My work acts as a collective portraiture, capturing the shifting fronts and clouds of humans moving through and around each other, leaving elements in their wake.”

 

EDUCATION
Education Boston University, MFA - Painting
University of California, Davis, BA - Anthropology and Art Studio

EXHIBITION

2015, “Paper Prodigies,” Sozo Gallery, Charlotte NC

2015, “Human Botanica,” Two Person Exhibition, Page Bond Gallery


2013, Exhibition, SaoHouse, Montreal Canada

2013, Solo Exhibition, Graficas Gallery, Nantucket MA

2013, Exhibition, Page Bond Gallery

2012, Solo Exhibition, Old Spouter Gallery, Nantucket MA


2012, “Sweet Tides,” Solo Exhibition, Thos. Moser Showroom, Washington DC

2011, Solo Exhibition, Old Spouter Gallery, Nantucket MA

2010, Solo Exhibition, Old Spouter Gallery, Nantucket MA

2009, Exhibition, Page Bond Gallery, Richmond VA

2009, Solo Exhibition, Old Spouter Gallery, Nantucket MA

2008, Solo Exhibition, Hoadley Gallery, Lenox MA

2007, Two Person Exhibition, Susan Calloway Fine Arts, Washington DC

2007, Solo Exhibition, Hoadley Gallery, Lenox MA

2007, Solo Exhibition, Old Spouter Gallery, Nantucket MA

2006, Solo Exhibition, Page Bond Gallery, Richmond VA

2006, Solo Exhibition, Old Spouter Gallery, Nantucket MA

2006, Solo Exhibition, Page Waterman Gallery, Wellesley MA

2006, “All Paintings Great & Small,” Cooley Gallery, Old Lyme CT


2005, Solo Exhibition, Susan Calloway Fine Arts, Washington DC

2005, Two Person Exhibition, Page Waterman Gallery, Wellesley MA


2005, Two Person Exhibition, Whitlock Gallery, Nantucket MA

2005, “The Art Colony on Nantucket: 60 Years of Contemporary Art,”
Egan Institute of Maritime Studies, Nantucket MA

2004, Solo Exhibition, Page Bond Gallery, Richmond VA


2004, Solo Exhibition, Susan Calloway Fine Arts, Washington DC

2004, Two Person Exhibition, Whitlock Gallery, Nantucket MA

2004, “Nantucket in SOHO,” Studio Di Modica, New York City


2004, “Artweek 2004” Group Exhibition, Baltimore Choral Arts Society


2003, Two Person Exhibition, Whitlock Gallery, Nantucket MA

2003, Group Exhibition, Page Waterman Gallery, Wellesley MA

2002, Two Person Exhibition, Whitlock Gallery, Nantucket MA

2002, Solo Exhibition, Page Bond Gallery, Richmond VA

 

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
“Arts + Power,” DC Modern Luxury
“Eye Candy,” Domino Magazine
“Remembering Space,” Richmond Arts Review
“Alison Hall Cooley at Old Spouter Gallery,” Inquirer & Mirror
“In Touch with Island Rhythms,” Art of the Cape & Islands
“In the Studio with Alison Hall Cooley,” Nantucket Independent
“Featured Artist: Alison Hall Cooley,” Nantucket Island Living
“Eye of the Beholder,” N Magazine
“400 Notable People on the Cape & Islands,” Cape Cod Life
“Beauty of Cooley’s Work in Eye of the Beholder,” Inquirer & Mirror
“Arts Record: Cooley’s Azorean Influence,” Nantucket Independent
“Forty Under 40,” Nantucket Independent
“Alison Hall Cooley at Calloway Fine Art,” The Georgetowner
“Landscape & Atmosphere: Alison Hall Cooley’s Intuitive Interest,” Nantucket Independent
“Navigations Through Open Space,” Cape Cod Life