Cooper’s aim is to provide an artistic space for the viewer to process the complex emotions brought on by our climate crisis, to help find the strength and hope to change. Humans have the capacity to improve our relationship with the environment, but it starts inside.

Cooper’s life-sized figurative paintings use energetic brushwork, vivid colors, and the human form to explore humanity as a living, evolving force. What started as exploratory paintings rooted in evolutionary biology have quickly evolved to express her growing concern for an uncertain future on this planet. As we are stricken with a climate emergency that challenges the human species, she is in pursuit of a creative vision for the inner change necessary to adapt. Her vivid paintings reflect real feelings—worry, fear, but also connection, intuition, strength—that become vivid manifestations of the life force inside the flesh and blood body.

Q What is the inspiration behind painting

My paintings have increasingly become concerned with the emotional impact felt by the weight of the climate crisis. We are challenged to internally face our own hand in this human-caused temperature rise as we decide how to mitigate further damage to the planet. The painting shows multiple figures expressing different emotional states merged together around a morphing, glowing belly. Cool tones on the upper left side of the canvas help emphasize hot colors and brushwork rising compositionally from the lower, left corner to the upper, right—as if charting a temperature rise that runs right through our bodies.

In the studio, painting this piece helped me process my own worry, fear, grief. Brushstroke after brushstroke, layer after layer, I peeled back my own layers to get to the heart. It is from the heart, from our core, that we can find the courage, strength as individuals and together as a species to take action for our shared planet.

"Change of Heart, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches, 2020. Learn more: https://www.nicolecooperartist.com/paintings/change-of-heart

Q How large are your paintings?

The figures in my paintings are generally life-sized. I want the viewer to stand with my paintings and relate their own body to that depicted on canvas. Though the figures are life-sized, I have a variety of different sized pieces. From small, more cropped in psychological spaces to larger multi-figure pieces. My largest painting "Woven in Time" is a triptych measuring 5 feet (60 inches) tall x 10 feet (120 inches) wide.

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