International Sculpture Center



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Barbara Cooper

4908 N. Paulina
Chicago, IL 60640, U.S.A.
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Phone: 773-784-4832

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Nature is always my place to begin. I am drawn to how forms respond to the stresses they withstand and the obstacles they confront. Starting with observations of specific phenomena, I abstract the parallels I find in processes as diverse as the surge of lava, the creep of a glacier, the flow of water, or the growth of a tree.

My focus is on how a form records its growth process of evolving from one condition to another as it responds to its environment. This process of transformation, whether in the natural environment or in the realm of the cultural or the personal, is an essential aspect of life. It is the foundation upon which my work builds.



1975–77 Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, MFA
1969–74 Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, BFA

Selected One-Person Exhibitions

  • 2007 Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, Washington. “ re:Growth”, catalogue
  • 2007 Merwin Gallery, Illinois Weslyan University, Bloomington, Illlinois.  “Cross Sections:  Sculpture and Drawing”
  • 2006 Cultural Center, Chicago, Illinois.  “Disruptions”.
  • 2006 Northeastern Illinois University, Fine Arts Center Gallery, Chicago, Illinois.  “Artist at Work”.
  • 2004,2006 John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  “Essential Terrain”.
  • 2003 Hafnarborg Institute of Culture and Fine Art, Hafnarfjardar, Iceland  “Processes of Change”.
  • 2003 Southwest School of Art and Craft, San Antonio, Texas.  “A Recording of Growth”.
  • 2000 Fassbender Gallery, Chicago, Illinois.  “Sculpture and Drawing”.
  • 2000 Indiana University NW Gallery for Contemporary Art, Gary, Indiana
  • 2000 Sybaris Gallery, Royal Oak, Michigan
  • 1999 Southeast Missouri State University Museum, Cape Girardeau, Missouri
  • 1998 Fassbender Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1998 Riverside Arts Center, Riverside, Illinois
  • 1997 Joanne Rapp Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona
  • 1996 Sybaris Gallery, Royal Oak, Michigan
  • 1996 Fassbender Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1996 Contemporary Art Center, Peoria, Illinois
  • 1995 Northern Illinois University Art Museum, DeKalb, Illinois
  • 1994 Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1994 Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio
  • 1988 Artemisia Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1988 Virginia Beach Arts Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • 1987 Allegra Gallery, San Jose, California
  • 1987 Artemisia Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1987 Blackfish Gallery, Portland, Oregon
  • 1987 Contemporary Art Workshop, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1986 Davidson Galleries, Seattle, Washington
  • 1986 Montalvo Center for the Arts, Saratoga, California
  • 1986 Center for Contemporary Art, Great Falls, Montana
  • 1986 University of Northern Arizona Art Gallery, Flagstaff, Arizona
  • 1986 University of Arkansas Art Gallery, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • 1985 Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio
  • 1985 Yellowstone Art Center, Billings, Montana
  • 1984 Eastern Montana University, Billings, Montana
  • 1983 Hockaday Center for the Arts, Kalispell, Montana
  • 1983 Center for Contemporary Art, Great Falls, Montana
  • 1980 Northwest Artists Workshop, Portland, Oregon

Public Art Commissions

  • 2007 Chicago Transit Authority, Brown Line Renovation:  glass mosaic wall and suspended stainless and brass sculpture
  • 2006 Avalon Branch Library, Chicago:  suspended wood sculpture
  • 2004 City of Chicago Park District, Chicago: Art in the Garden, steel trellis structures, catalogue

Public Collections

  • Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, Clermont, Kentucky
  • The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, Hawai’i
  • Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
  • First National Bank of Columbia, Columbia, Missouri
  • John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
  • Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas
  • Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois
  • Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin
  • Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.
  • Sprint, Kansas City, Missouri
  • William Rainey Harper College, Palatine, Illinois
  • Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio
  • Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana

Selected Bibliography

  • Abell,Jeff.  "Barbara Cooper:  Fassbender Gallery, Chicago,  "C" International Contemporary Art Magazine
    (Issue 60, Nov. 1998):  44.
  • Apel, Dora, editor.  “Cranbrook Art Museum: 100 Treasures”, 2004, Cranbrook Art Museum,:  p. .242-243. 
  • Bates, Geoffrey.  "From Limb to Limb", The Living Museum.  (Vol. 60, No. 1, 1998):  9-12.
  • Brunetti, John.  Barbara Cooper, re: Growth, catalogue, Bellevue Arts Museum, 2007, 32 pages.
  • Camper, Fred.  "Dream Weaver", Chicago Reader.  (June 19, 1998):  46.
  • Camper, Fred.  "Frames of Reference."  Chicago Reader.(January 19,1996):  22.
  • Cassidy, Victor.  “Barbara Cooper at the Chicago Cultural Center”, Art in America (April 2007): p. 148
  • Castro, Jan Garden.  "St. Louis Review”, Sculpture Magazine (November 1999):  65.
  • Craig, Gerry.  “Barbara Cooper”, Sculpture Magazine (December 2000):  p.69-70.
  • Design House.  “Nouvelle Objet VI” (2001): p.28-31
  • Fariello and Owen, editor.  “Objects and Meaning:  New Perspectives in Art and Craft”, 2004, Scarecrow Press,  p. 197.
  • Hixson, Kathryn.  “Chicago in Review.”  Arts Magazine (February 1989):  106-107.
  • Howard, Martha.  "The Tension of Containment:  A Sculpture Invitational."  New Art Examiner (January  1992):  35.
  • Jacob, Mary Jane.  “Undulating Memories of Time”. Sybaris Gallery Brochure, (April-May 2000).
  • Leucking, Stephen.  "Biomorphs:  Organic Abstraction and the Mechanics of Life," Sculpture Magazine (Jan./Feb. 2000):  38-43.
  • Marsha Miro.  “Sculptures by Barbara Cooper”, Fiberarts (Jan./Feb. .2001):  p.56-57.
  • McClelland, Elizabeth.  "Powerful and Perverse."  Cleveland Edition #31 (April 4-10 1985).
  • McCracken, David.  "Sculptors Share Flair for Experimentation."  Chicago Tribune .  (June 7, 1991):  74.
  • McLane and Palladino-Craig.   “Terrestrial Forces.”, Florida State Museum of Fine Arts, 2004:  catalogue, p. 18,19, 36-7, front and back cover.
  • Rice, Robin.  "Modus Operandi", American Craft Magazine (February/March 1999):  66-69.
  • Sheply, Carol Ferring.  "Basketry: A View from the Outer Edges."  Fiber Arts Magazine. (Sep/Oct 1995): 56-57.
  • Sheply, Carol Ferring.  "Innovations in Textile Art," Fiber Arts Magazine (November/December 1999):  53.
  • Shermeta, Margo.  “Contemporary Sculpture:  A Question of Elegance.”  Fiberarts (Summer 1991):  22-27.
  • Snodgrass, Susan.  "An Art of Essence:  The Sculpture and Drawing of Barbara Cooper.  Northern Illinois University Art Museum.  Brochure (August 1995).
  • Strayer, Jenny, "Nature of the Act", Southeast Missouri State University Museum,  Cape Girardeau, brochure essay (Aug. 1999).
  • Sundell, Ivy. “ Living Artists”, 2005, Crow Woods Publishing, p. 58-59.
  • Thodos, Diane.  “Barbara Cooper”, New Art Examiner (April 2001):  p. .52.
  • Ullrich, Polly.  "Barbara Cooper:  Layering Time," American Craft (February/March 2000):  66-69.
  • Ullrich, Polly.  "From Limb to Limb:  Extended Review from Chicago, "New Art Examiner(December/January 99-2000):  46.
  • White, Cheryl.  “Materially Speaking.”  Artweek (September 5, 1987):  3.
  • Wittkopp, Gregory, editor.  “Hot House: Expanding the Field of Fiber at Cranbrook 1970-2007”,  catalogue (2007):p. 40.


  • 2006 Kohler Arts / Industry Program, three-month residency fellowship
  • 2005 Vermont Studio Center, one-month residency fellowship
  • 2004 Eastern Frontier Society, Maine, 3-week residency fellowship
  • 2003 Hafnarborg Institute of Culture and Fine Art, Hafnarfjordur, Iceland, one-month residency fellowship
  • 2002 Fellowship  and Residency Award, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, Kentucky
  • 2002 Artist's Fellowship Award, Illinois Arts Council
  • 2001 White Artists Colony, Costa Rica, one-month residency fellowship
  • 2000 Artist's Fellowship Award, Illinois Arts Council
  • 2000 Gilsociety, Akureyri, Iceland, one-month residency fellowship
  • 1999 Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, Temecula, California, one-month residency fellowship
  • 1996 Pouch Cove Foundation, Newfoundland, one-month residency fellowship
  • 1994 Arts Midwest/NEA Regional Visual Arts Fellowship
  • 1994 Johnson County Community College, Kansas City, Kansas, commission for large-scale sculpture
  • 1992 The Camargo Foundation, Cassis, France, three-month fellowship
  • 1992 Blue Mountain Center, Blue Mountain Lake, New York, one-month fellowship
  • 1991 Artist's Fellowship, Illinois Arts Council
  • 1991 The MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire, six-week residency fellowship
  • 1991 Community Arts Assistance Grant, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affair
  • 1990 The Chicago Show, Cultural Center, Chicago, Illinois, Museum of Contemporary Art Purchase Award
  • 1990 Ragdale Foundation, Lake Forest, Illinois, one-month residency fellowship
  • 1988 Special Assistance Grant, Illinois Arts Council
  • 1988 Ragdale Foundation, Lake Forest, Illinois, one-month residency fellowship
  • 1988 Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, Otis, Oregon, three-month residency fellowship
  • 1986 Montalvo Center for the Arts, Saratoga, California, three-month residency fellowship
  • 1984 Research and Creativity Grant, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana
  • 1983 Research and Creativity Grant, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana
  • 1979 Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, New York, two-month residency fellowship
  • 1978 Cummington Community of the Arts, Cummington, Mass., one-month residency fellowship