Michael David Cook – An Artistic Journey

Michael David Cook Artist Artistic Journey

Artists absorb all the artistic influences around them, from nature to TV, movies, and books. At some point, an artist decides to grow creatively, and that is when the creative journey truly begins.

Artists are extraordinarily blessed to do what they love more imaginatively than others. Although painting has long been a hobby for many people, true artists know how to turn their hobby into a profession and then into a lifestyle. There have been many creative individuals whose road to prominence is followed by some aspiring artists. Artists embarking on the creative journey have a fire burning inside of them that has no chance of being extinguished by fear, doubt, or second-guessing. 

The life and journey of an established artist can serve as a roadmap for emerging painters, sculptors, and other creative people. Most artists begin their journey focusing solely on the unique side of making art. Michael David Cook, the Puerto-Rico-born painter, embarked on his journey as an artist in the United States in 1978. 

Michael David Cook An Artistic Journey

Cook was born in 1953 in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Since he was a kid, he was exposed to art while living in London, England. Cook completed his schooling at the Central High School in Bushey, England, in 1971. It was in 1975 when Cook moved to the United States and received his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at Florida State University. 

Studying the arts enriches a person while preparing aspiring artists for life after school. Learning new skills is possible when looking at the history of art. Artists develop particular sketches and painting skills and understand many creative forms, media, and methods. In this regard, Cook’s education brought him to the School of Arts and Design at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign as a visiting artist in 1978. During his time as a visiting artist at the University of Illinois, Cook began his nuclear and thermonuclear painting in collaboration with the physics department. 

Art about the nuclear force is an approach previously explored by artists and painters in the aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki explosions. Cook’s nuclear and thermonuclear art is considered the re-imagining of the nuclear force in paintings that explore both the positive and negative impact of nuclear energy. Cook has confounded painting visual norms and practices across his work and over many years to challenge the viewer’s detachment from experience. This and subsequent initiatives have investigated the notion of landscape. By applying a method of visual semiotics, he has been able to broaden the notion of “landscape” beyond the literal picture of geography.

Throughout his career as an artist, Cook has been appointed as an educator at many universities due to his in-depth understanding of painting and art as a whole. In 1982, Cook was awarded the Illinois Arts Council Individual Artists Fellowship and Ford Foundation Grants. In the same year, he unveiled the exhibition Michael Cook, Paintings and Drawings” at, N.A.M.E Gallery in Chicago, Illinois. A year later, Cook was appointed a visiting artist at the University of California, Berkeley, Department of Art Practice. During this time, Cook conducted the initial classes in the department focusing on video and performance called “Temporal and Linear Structure.” In 1985 he was awarded a National Endowment For The Arts Individual Artists Fellowship. San Francisco Art Institute later invited Cook as Special Guest Faculty before he joined the University of New Mexico as an Assistant Professor. He went on to become an Associate Professor, Full Professor, and Associate Dean for Technology. 

He designed and assisted in implementing the Arts Technology Center, which later became ArtsLab. In addition, he created “Nature and Technology,” an intense two-week field study of art in the landscape as part of the D.H. Lawrence Ranch Workshops, the framework of which has been adopted by several department classes.

Cook work

Cook’s work has been exhibited at the New Museum in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Albuquerque Museum, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago, the University Art Museum at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the Museum of Fine Arts, The Museum School Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts, and commercial galleries. The New York Times, Art News, The New Art Examiner, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Magazine have all written on the exhibitions. His work may be found in several public and private collections.

In a nutshell, for every artist, there are so many challenges and opportunities waiting down the road when they begin their artistic journey. The journey of Michael Cook is unique in the way he has investigated our relationship to what it is that we think we perceive. This has been accomplished through interrelated bodies of work which started with his Nuclear and Thermonuclear Paintings. 

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