LOS ANGELES — Cathy Cooper’s sculptures, displayed in the lobby of Craft Contemporary, look like they’re lined up for curtain call. The amorphous fabrics — all but one seeming to levitate — drape, wrinkle, and curl in lively ways despite the absence of a body.
Cooper has been working for decades in costuming, and while the pieces in Dramatis Personae were not created for the stage, they draw the spotlight with their grand presence and intricate details. Playing with fashion tropes from different periods, especially the 17th and 18th centuries, the sculptures fan out with hoop skirts, oversized cowls, and long bustled trains.
Each piece embodies a character that doesn’t exist, but Cooper invites viewers to envision narratives that speak through her silhouettes. In the center, “CANGUE” (2017) could be our protagonist. Her square, crinkled collar gives her a regal stature, diminishing any demureness interpreted by the long mustard sleeves folded in front. Behind her, “Dramatis Personae (Burgundy)” (2018) and “Dramatis Personae (Purple)” (2018) lurk like villains, their heavy robes splattered in paint and beeswax, perhaps stains from battle.
By introducing the illusion of fluids — created from acrylic, dye, wax, and wood — Cooper makes her beautiful sculptures grotesque. In Craft Contemporary’s built-in niches, she presents four smaller figures, which are more abstract than those on the main stage, but still read as living creatures. The way their fabric is draped puts them into vulnerable positions, states of agony and despair. “Bloodsport” (2020) has red netting protruding from its center, a fatal wound. “Leatherhead” (2020) sweats from the head and twists its body, experiencing pleasure from pain.
Most of the exhibition can be seen, from the rearview, from Craft Contemporary’s front window. Two sculptures face the street, luring you in. Accept their invitation and invent the story for their next performance.
Cathy Cooper: Dramatis Personae continues at Craft Contemporary (5814 Wilshire Boulevard, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles) through September 12.
Did You Know These Museums Were Free for New Yorkers?
The “Free Admission” campaign is advocating to make ticket pricing information more transparent to visitors, who may be confused or misled by institutions’ language.
AI Images Visualizing Trump’s Arrest Send Internet Into a Frenzy
The pictures, created using Midjourney, depict the former president’s greatest fantasy: being dragged away by police in front of the cameras.
Haggerty Museum of Art Presents Tomás Saraceno in Dialogue With Dr. Somesh Roy
The artist and researcher will explore soot’s effects on climate change and public health in this online conversation.
Some AI Artworks Now Eligible for Copyright
New guidance from the US Copyright Office sets some policies around AI-generated images.
NYC Hispanic Society Workers to Strike Indefinitely
One worker said the museum’s “skeletal” workforce bars the institution from functioning to its potential.
McKnight Visual Artist Fellows Discussion Series at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
The series features 2021 Fellows David Bowen, Mara Duvra, Rotem Tamir, Ben Moren, and Dyani White Hawk in conversation with renowned curators and critics.
In Search of Inclusive South Asian Futurisms
We have been dangerously siloed for far too long by colonial constructs of race, nation, and time that separate, divide, and deny us our very being.
What Do Shtreimels and Cowboy Hats Have in Common?
A chance meeting on the subway introduced photographer Francesca Magnani to the multicultural world of Brooklyn milliner Richard Faison.
Nevada Museum of Art Presents Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity
For the first time in nearly 60 years, the innovative yet under-recognized artist is the subject of a retrospective exhibition. On view in Reno, Nevada.
Richard Hull Completes the Picture
Once known for his abstracted portraits, the Chicago artist is now exploring new directions.
You Too Can Have Your Art on a Postage Stamp
The process isn’t complicated, and thousands of people submit themselves for the talent pool every year.
The Public Theater in NYC Presents Plays for the Plague Year
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s theatrical concert chronicles the 2020 lockdown and the hope and perseverance that emerged from it.
Bobby Wilson Combats Indigenous Stereotypes Through Humor
The artist-performer’s career undulates, ever so gracefully, across multiple mediums and registers of generational pain, healing laughter, and Indigenous joy.
Rare 19th-Century Silhouette Album’s Secrets Unlocked
Traveling portrait artist William Bache’s album depicts famous figures like Thomas Jefferson as well as people whose identity was previously unknown.