Athena Cooper is an acrylic and digital painter born in Vancouver and based in Calgary, Canada. Trained as an animator, her paintings are strongly influenced by her love of the vibrant colours and interplay of light found in stained glass.
Artist Statement
Born with the rare genetic disorder, Osteogenesis Imperfecta (aka ‘brittle bone disease’), and a wheelchair-user since the age of six, the images Athena creates appear as though they have been passed through her own glass-like nature to become windows into how she sees the world.
She finds the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany particularly inspiring and has spent a number of years doing studies of his glass work with the aim of learning how to replicate the look of stained glass in paint. One of Tiffany’s great innovations was this notion of creating beauty from imperfection. Prior to his work, perfect glass was supposed to be clear, pure and even in tone. Tiffany-style stained glass however is a riot of colours and textures that capture, manipulate and shatter the light coming through it in dozens of different ways. Through paint Athena seeks to similarly emulate that beautiful imperfection and control the light as it appears to shine through from behind the painting.
Many of her paintings begin as snapshots from around her neighbourhood captured on her phone. These fleeting moments are seemingly every day and yet conjure a sense of awe. It is that first light of dawn on a frosty morning passing through barren branches that cast long fingers of shadow. It is a shaft of light illuminating a single poppy in a roadside garden and then gone minutes later. For each of these blink-or-you’ll-miss-it moments, Athena seeks to capture the beauty she bore witness to and pass on that vision in her paintings.
Exhibitions
MASKED: Self Portraits of a Pandemic
virtual exhibition presented by The Ikouii Creative -
August 1 –​​​​​​​ October 6, 2020, Atlanta, GA
Emerging Artist Exhibit
virtual exhibition presented by the Pumphouse Theatre
in association with the IGNITE! Emerging Artist Festival
June 3 –​​​​​​​ August 31, 2020, Calgary, AB
EVERYBODY
group exhibit of disability identified artists from across Alberta
January 16 - March 21, 2020 at Pumphouse Theatre, Calgary, AB
Find Your Heart(h)
solo exhibition of paintings and digital art
August 24 – September 21, 2019 at cSPACE King Edward, Calgary, AB
“Can You See Us Vancouver?” Art exhibition
presented by Kickstart Disability Art & Culture
November 6 – December 1, 2017 at the Pendulum Gallery, Vancouver, BC
CBC News: Can You See Us Vancouver? Art exhibition presented for people using wheelchairs — interview with Yuri Arajs (curator) and Athena Cooper
International Artist Day Anonymous Art Show
presented by 100 Braid Street Studios
October 27-29, 2017 at the 100 Braid Street Studios, New Westminster, BC
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