Alison Cooper

What education have you taken?

I’ve been enrolled in the Bachelor of Fine Arts Honors program in the Department of Visual and Aboriginal Arts for the past four years, focusing on Ceramic and drawing media. I hope to graduate this spring!

What accomplishments are you proud of?

I’ve been privileged to hold assistantships within the Visual and Aboriginal Art Department that have furthered my interest in the Fine Art field. As the Glen P. Sutherland Gallery Coordinator, I’ve gained an understanding of the investment required to put together art exhibitions that benefit and promote student artists and generate discourse and greater appreciation by the audience.  Currently, I am curating an exhibition at aceartinc. in Winnipeg of recent thesis work from students graduating or recently graduated from our program. The exhibition runs from February 8-23rd, and is an exciting opportunity for individuals like myself.

I’ve developed considerable knowledge of the technical craftsmanship required as a ceramic artist though time spent assisting Professor Lin Xu. This has ultimately furthered my success within my thesis year.

In addition, I have become increasingly involved as an executive member of the Brandon University Fine Art Student Association and the Cone Six Clay Club, both of which focus on promoting Fine Art students and their work in the community. Since my Youth Exchange in 2005-2006, I’ve also been committed to the Rotary in one way or another, such as counseling for three years at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Camp, volunteering at the Rotary Book Sale, and being an active member/ Vice-President of the Wheat City Rotaract Club, a Youth (18-30) offshoot of Rotary.

Tell me about yourself / your background / your history.

I grew up in Brandon and thus have watched the city expand over years. I’m the middle child in a middle-class family of five and many say it’s the main reason I’ve developed an unrestrained need to succeed and grow.

My parents are working-class people, both initially teachers, who understand the worth and importance of an education and hard-working mentality. Over the past ten years, I’ve watched my mom fight for the development of Westman Immigrant Services so that new immigrants have the abilities to integrate into our community. She is currently the English Language Coordinator. My Father is the Carpentry Apprenticeship Instructor at Assiniboine Community College, and I believe I derived an interest in working with my hands as an artist from watching him craft almost every element of our house over the last 21 years.  Both of my parents instilled a drive for excellence in me.

How did you become interested in your field of study?

I think I grew up dreaming about the arts. I began dancing at age four and continued at the Brandon School of Dance for the next fourteen years. And as long as I can remember, someone could give me a pencil and a sheet of paper and I would sit contentedly drawing the images that swarmed my head. It has been a passion as long as I can remember. My secondary school art instructor, Perri Gardner, fostered my interest in Visual Art by allowing me to hide out in her classroom to draw and paint while skipping another class. How could I resist? There were opportunities to show work all around Crocus as well as at the Tri-High Art Exhibition that used to be held by the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba. Perri used to rave about my current professor, Steve Gouthro  (who graciously nominated me for this), and would make me swear that I’d take any and all classes he offered at BU.

Since seeing Gourthro’s “Through The Mill” in 2004, I could only agree.

Surprisingly, I’ve moved in a different direction, taken due to the endless possibilities of the ceramic medium. I have had the opportunity to work extensively in the medium, learning far more than I thought possible in a Bachelors program about ceramics and the technical aspects necessary to succeed.

What is your philosophy in life?

Passion and creativity are integral to my continued development as a young woman. I have to feel that I need and want to continue in whatever path I choose because the tasks are challenging and require creative problem-solving. I have an unrelenting drive for perfection and understand that there hard work is always involved to reach desired ends.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

My hope is that I complete an MBA and find a place that draws on my talents within the arts, preferably in an administrative role.  I’m hoping that day will come sooner than later.

Nominator’s Comments:

I’ve known Alison Cooper since her first year of Fine Arts when in addition to required first year courses she enrolled in my 3-D Design class.  Although she was a young person among second and third year students Alison’s solutions to problems were surprisingly mature.  Alison has been one of the hardest working, most intelligent and technically adroit students in every class that she’s taken from me. Alison has also been a leader among her classmates. For two years she was the president of the Brandon University Fine Arts Students’ Association (BUFASA) and the student Gallery Assistant, responsible for organizing the many shows at the Glen P. Sutherland Gallery. In this position, she also was a liaison with other areas of the university, including helping organize events with the President’s office such as Homecoming. Alison Cooper is currently working on her Ceramics thesis in the fourth year of her Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts in the Department of Visual and Aboriginal Art. She is also now the student Ceramics assistant helping with the maintenance and functioning of the ceramics studio, and available to less experienced Ceramics students as a peer advisor. Alison continues to put her gallery skill to use this year in organizing the Brandon University Bachelor of Fine Arts Thesis group show that will open this February at aceartinc, an important artist-run gallery in Winnipeg. She is also working intensively on her own solo exhibition that will open at the Glen P. Sutherland Gallery in the spring.  This young woman is a remarkable student who deserves to be recognized.