MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)2017, Prior to 2012
Artist StatementAs an artist who is captivated by the everyday my focus often narrows to the smallest of cracks on the sidewalk and the faintest of shadows on the wall. Through the exploration of unnoticed properties of the everyday I aim to formulate work that examines an expanded notion of drawing, questions the edge of perceptibility, and reconsiders the role of art object in relation to audience. Within these investigations my intent is to produce work that yields questions rather than asserts conclusions. Thus, the effectiveness of my practice is bound to the quality of my questions. I find art production at the intersection of theory and practice an intriguing and demanding way of working. Questions arising from theoretical studies are articulated in the artwork; resulting products are then examined and mined for further questions. Although reflexive, this dialogue between idea and object is not insular. Rather, I attempt to maintain an open approach, centrifugal in nature, generating inquiries at the edge of current methods and disciplines. I work outside the conventional notion of drawing, notating a physical site rather than rendering an illusory version of that site. Drawing is traditionally considered to be a two-dimensional re-presentation of the three-dimensional. What if drawing were liberated from its conventional role of descriptor and instead employed as a strategy where tactics might include nomination and notation; where materials move outside of standard mark makers and paper. Thus a line drawn by the artist is equivalent to a line created by an existing site element, something as ordinary as a visible drywall seam. Through these site responsive drawings I examine where the liminal state exists between what is noticed and what is overlooked. If all facts are physiologically recorded but much of what we see goes unnoticed, is what we see more a result of how we have edited reality? And if so, how does the introduction of additional information begin to disassemble the gestalt and alter our perception or knowledge of the world? In addition to perceptibility, I am interested in employing the contextually dependent nature of my drawings as a means to encourage the viewer to engage as participant rather than observer. My interest in audience as contributor leads me to question the hierarchy of the art object. Is it possible to create work where meaning is not contained within the object, but rather the object creates a heuristic state that asks the viewer to complete the piece?
Leah Cooper is a Baltimore artist who is captivated by the everyday. Her focus often narrows to the smallest of cracks on the sidewalk and the faintest of shadows on the wall. Using contextually dependent installation she explores an expanded notion of drawing that questions where the liminal state exists between what is noticed and what is overlooked. She is an avid observer, a determined thinker, a purposeful maker, and an artist who designates a piece successful when it has generated more questions, rather than illustrated a single answer.
Leah received her MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and her BA in Studio Art from the University of Maryland, College Park. In 2017 she was a recipient of the Franz and Virginia Bader grant. She was a 2015 Trawick Prize Finalist and a 2010 Janet & Walter Sondheim Finalist. In addition to her year as finalist, she was a Sondheim Semifinalist in 2012, 2014, and 2015. She received Maryland State Art Council Individual Artist Grants in 2017 & 2011 and a William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund B Grant in 2013. She has shown in The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Stamp, Arlington Art Center, VisArts Center, Montpellier Arts Center, Gallery at the University of Maryland and RTKL Architecture Firm.