First published: Summer 2022
This Cincinnati artist draws and redraws, updates and rearranges maps of his hometown, layering each one with words, history and memories.
“I started drawing maps when I was nine,” Courttney Cooper says. When asked what kinds of maps, he simply says, “Cincinnati”. Greater Cincinnati is still the main subject matter for Cooper, now 44. Every Thursday evening – after working a full day at the Kroger supermarket near his home in Cincinnati, Ohio – he sets up shop at Visionaries + Voices, a non-profit studio and gallery for artists with developmental disabilities. His workstation is a large, industrial table in a high-ceilinged room. He usually begins each evening shift with a walkthrough of the place, then sorts out his materials and gets down to it. He also draws at home, where he lives with his mother.
Cooper working on his current Cincinnati map, 2022
Diagnosed with autism as a child, Cooper’s schooling consisted of special educational classes. His mother says that, one Saturday afternoon when he was eight, she found him in the back garden, “building Cincinnati” out of rocks, bricks, sticks and other found materials.
The artist, in 2019, working on a rare smaller artwork in colour, for a special, one-off project
“It was his version of the neighbourhood and the city itself, just out there in the yard. Perfect little neighbourhoods and buildings you could recognise by the way he put the bricks and rocks together,” she says. “He was just standing there above it, proud.”
By KEITH BANNER
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #111