6 Questions With…

Tara Cooper
Artist-in-Residence, Fall 2014
Print, Collaborator with Artist-in-Residence Terry O’Neill


Q: Where are you from originally?
A: I grew up in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, but have lived in Toronto for the past 20 years.

Q: How did you find out about Anderson Ranch Arts Center?
A: I first found out about Anderson Ranch in Boston at the Southern Graphics Arts Council Conference. I had to double-check how long ago this was and was surprised to find that it was in 2003. Whoever was at the booth must have made a good pitch, as it has stayed with me for more than a decade.

What is your favorite part about it?
A: I love going over to the other studios, seeing what people are making and having the opportunity to try new techniques and equipment. I’m interested in translation—how ideas look and work across mediums and disciplines. What happens when you take the elements of a print and apply them to ceramics? How does material, scale and process affect the outcome and our experience of it?

Q:What are your artistic specialties?
A: My background is in print media—a foundation that resonates even when I work in other mediums. Things like mark making, multiplicity and process are often at the forefront. I’ve also been making short films with my husband and sometimes collaborator Terry O’Neill. I’m not sure if I’d call it a specialty yet, but I’m getting better at cinematography and editing.

Other specialties?
A: I like to think of myself as an amateur meteorologist. For the past six years I’ve been working on a series of projects under the moniker Weather Girl. The more I learn about weather, the better it gets… from discovering giant-sized pieces of hail, to learning about mammatus clouds, to seeing dust devils just outside of Denver and a double rainbow over the Atlantic Ocean. Plus there’s the language of weather, terminology that is simultaneously timely, dramatic, scientific and poet-ic. For example, the acronym CAVU, which is used in aviation and stands for “Ceiling And Visi-bility Unlimited”.

Q: Why do you make art?
A: I’m curious. I like to experiment, to make things, to test solutions. In an article from the New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell talks about 2 kinds of creative people. The first is affiliated with precocity, where genius comes at a young age, everything clicks at a particular moment in time (e.g. Orson Welles makes Citizen Kane at 25). Gladwell defines the second as a “Late Bloomer”. The practice of a late bloomer is rooted in experimentation. It is only with energy and time that a question is solved. Cezanne exemplifies this latter group, producing his most accomplished paintings at the end of his life. I’m hoping that I’m a late bloomer, as my practice tends to embrace experimentation, labour and repeated attempts. I always think that my next project will be the best.

Q: What are three things that inspire you as an artist?
A: I’m a big fan of Maira Kalman. I saw her retrospective, “Various Illuminations of a Crazy World” a few years back and keep coming back to the exhibition catalogue. Kalman seems to poetically navigate the space between diary, creative non-fiction, illustration and design. Her work illuminates hope, joy and humour, but not without the knowledge of tragedy and heartache. One of my favorite lines in the catalogue written by Ingrid Schaffner is “joy is where you find it–usually on the shelf right next to sadness”. Another favorite, but not specifically art-related is the radio series “This American Life”. It’s compelling, smart, funny and unpredictable–all of which I ad-mire. My third inspiration comes from teaching, from my students. They keep me on my toes in terms of current technologies and what’s going on.

Q: How can we find you on social media and the web?
A: I teach at the University of Waterloo, but I also have a website, blog and am a part of the Toronto-based artist collective Loop.