This book is a lavishly illustrated retrospective showcase of the life and work of sculptor Michael Cooper of Sebastopol, California, USA. More than 300 photographs provide an in-depth look into Michael’s youth in California’s Central Valley; his art education and training at San Jose State University and University of California at Berkeley; and his career development and accomplishments over five decades. Included are insightful and informative essays by renowned essayist and historian Paul Karlstrom and John Lavine, former editor of Woodwork magazine, as well as a foreword by Jeff Nathanson, executive director of the Museum of Sonoma County.
More than one hundred examples of Michael’s detailed working drawings reveal his design ideas and thought processes as he plans and creates his sculptures, and 285 large, stunning full-color photographs give the reader an intimate, almost tactile appreciation of the superb craftsmanship and creative expression apparent in his intriguing and thought-provoking sculptures.
Michael’s introduction and a workplace section featuring photographs of Michael’s home grounds and the artist at work in his spacious and well-equipped studio welcome the reader into his world in a friendly and intimate way.
When we close the book, we feel as though we know this unique artist and have actually entered his studio to be inspired and awed, to watch him work and enjoy his friendly company.
Born in 1943 in Richmond, California, Michael Cooper is a multimedia sculptor whose kinetic works incorporate engineering, mechanics, and traditional craftsmanship. Initially hesitant to work in fine art but fascinated with making, Cooper pursued a BA in commercial art and later a MA in sculpture at San Jose State College.
While completing his MA, Cooper was introduced to Fletcher Benton, an up-and-coming sculptor who had recently joined the faculty. Cooper cites the exhibition American Sculpture of the Sixties, which featured the work of his new professor, as a professional turning point. Motivated by the exhibition, Cooper went on to complete his MFA in sculpture from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1969.
He taught art at Foothill-DeAnza College in Cupertino, California, for 34 years before retiring in 2004.
Cooper has mounted solo exhibitions at galleries and museums along the West Coast and in Australia. He has been recognized with a fellowship in sculpture at the American Academy in Rome (1979–80), a fellowship at the Crafts Council of Australia (1979), and a Craftsman’s Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (1978). Michael Cooper was elected a Fellow of the American Craft Council in 2016.