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Eco 05Suspended from the ceiling of the Library East atrium is a two-piece hanging sculpture titled Ecotone. Each 25-foot-long gently curving form is comprised of layers of metal and cherry veneer that seem to float weightlessly above the library’s blue carpeted floors. “Ecotone is a place where two different habitats meet,” explains sculptor Barbara Cooper, who was commissioned to create the work in 2013 pursuant to the Florida Art in State Building program. “While it has some of the characteristics of each bordering community, Eco 03certain plant species not found in either appear. The influence of the two bordering communities on each other is known as the ‘edge effect’ and it is where much wildlife activity occurs. At the nexus of the university, the library is a place where different areas of study meet, overlap and generate new ideas and energies beyond the confines of the individual disciplines that it supports.”


About Her Art

Eco 07Using salvaged wood scraps discarded by the milling industry, Chicago-based conceptual artist Barbara Cooper creates imposing organic shapes which dominate the viewing environments in which they are installed. “I want to mirror the efficiency I find in nature by recycling waste products into a new generation of form,” Cooper remarks. Her Eco 10organic forms and materials pay tribute to the resilience of nature and the regenerative power of art.

Cooper crafts both her monumental and gallery-sized works by slowly layering her materials of choice. Time-intensive, the layering process metaphorically expresses the fact that in nature, Eco 01time is the literal and metaphorical measure for growth and re-growth in new directions. “My focus is on how a form records its growth process of evolving from one condition to another as it responds to its environment,” Cooper explains. “This process of transformation is an essential aspect of life.”


About the Artist

profile_picture-thumb1[1]Barbara Cooper works fluidly between sculpture and drawing. She was the subject of an extensive solo exhibition and 32 page color catalogue at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington. Other solo shows include the Gerald Peters Gallery in Sante Fe, the Chicago Cultural Center, Fassbender Gallery in Chicago, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and the Hafnarborg Institute of Culture and Fine Art in Iceland. Group exhibitions include the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, the Contemporary Museum of Art in Chicago, the Lemberg Gallery in Detroit, the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago, and Michigan’s Cranbrook Art Museum. Eco 12She has been an invited artist at Pilchuck, the Kohler Arts/Industry Program, and the Johnson Atelier. She has enjoyed residencies at Yaddo, Macdowell, Ragdale, Blue Mountain Center, Montalvo and the Camargo Foundation in France.

Her work is in the collections of the Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Cranbrook Museum of Art, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin. Cooper recently completed public art commissions for the Avalon Library in Chicago, the Chicago Transit Administration, and the Rhode Island Airport in Providence. A Chicago resident, Cooper has received three Illinois Eco 14Arts Council Fellowships.

Cooper holds a BFA from Cleveland Institute of Art and MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art.


Fast Facts

Ecotone is 36 feet long, 12 feet high and 8 feet wide.

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