Jess Riva Cooper
Jess Riva Cooper is a ceramic artist and educator currently based in Toronto, Ontario. Cooper received her MFA in ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design and her BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Cooper has shown work and participated in artist residencies throughout Canada and the United States, such as Brandeis University, Lillstreet Art Center, Medalta, Wassaic, and The Archie Bray Foundation.
In my art practice, I integrate colour, drawing and clay to create installation-based artwork. I study the foundation myths of the Golem and Dybbuk spirits in Yiddish folklore and reinterpret these traditional stories through a female lens. I also investigate fallen economicand environmental climates in regions such as Detroit, Michigan, where houses have become feral, disappearing behind ivy, trees and Kudzu vines that were planted generations ago. In my sculptures, the world sprouts plant matter. Colour and form burst forth fromquiet gardens and bring chaos to ordered spaces. Nature reclaims its place by creeping over structures. Wild floral growth subvertspast states, creating the preternatural from this transformation.
I see a direct parallel between my interest in insidious plant life and a malevolent Dybbuk spirit, which takes over the human body. Inboth situations a loss of control is suffered as the parasitic entity subsumes the host. In my current studio practice, I explore therelated idea of demonizing the non-human other as it is exemplified in the Hebrew term for Dybbuks, hizoniyim, outsiders.
My work draws on the historical representation of the figure in art. By introducing anthropomorphic forms into my installationenvironments, I am able to depict the extremes of embodied human experience. Sculpting the figure, this most familiar of forms,allows me to illustrate the physical and emotional vulnerability of the individual in day-to-day existence.