Friday, June 3, 2011

Artist Profiles: Skippy Cooper

ATTENTION FOLX: We have a new artist in town! And don't worry, she is way cuter in person (I'm not being insulting, I can say that because the picture above is from a series of photographs that deliberately hide her good looks!) Her name is Skippy Cooper. I can't wait to see what she brings to the mix. From the looks of this video, she has the potential to really shake things up.

She was kind enough to answer a few questions for Performance Art Houston, ENJOY!

Tell us a few fun facts about yourself:
Well, in addition to doing art, I also do stand-up comedy, write, and make music (I play the guitar, keyboard, ukulele, and sing). All of that to say that my prized skills are probably my typing speed of 101 wpm, and being able to juggle.

Where are you coming from?
Mostly insecurity, like a lot of people. I have questions about myself in terms of my racial and social identity, and I try to explore those. I'm half Mexican and half white, so I've always had some kind of struggle with my racial identity. Even just being asked what my race is, I'm never sure how to answer. People are always assigning races to me and I'm currently working on a video performance series on the subject. As far as social identity goes, I'm an adult with insecurities, social anxiety, and a vagina so the possibilities are pretty endless in that realm. At the same time, I'm always afraid to fail in life and have been that way since a young age. Normally, if I don't think I'll be just really great at something around the first time, then I won't even try. So I feel that creating characters like Michellie, where almost everything in her life is a failure, is important - and not just for myself, but for a lot of people. Failure is funny and everyone does it at some point, but normally no one wants to laugh about it when it happens to themselves. Michellie is able to kind of brush off the failures and find a silver lining.

What kind of art do you do?
I went to university for photography, but in my last year of school I was introduced to some really great performance and video artists by way of my mentor and professor (Sensei shout out!). I realized that my passions, questions, and ideas were really best suited for time based media. I still do photo projects that I love, such as On Separation and Glamour with a You, but I mostly use performance and video work these days.

Has Houston influenced any of your performance work yet?
I don't think it's influenced me and my work, really. Although, I'm not sure I'd be able to recognize if it were to influence it. I mean, I don't do a ton of location based work. Although, if I were to do that in the future, I would guess that whatever city I reside in would have the possibility to influence those pieces.

Describe a favorite performance art piece that you have done.
As narcissistic as this may sound, I'm actually kind of proud of a few. My first ever performance piece I did after realizing I loved the medium, was called Hug Jobs 1 . It came about, because I am probably the master at giving the awkward, uncomfortable hug. At the opening, I would sporadically hug visitors for at least one minute a piece. I thought it was interesting how this action and symbol of love and friendship could be turned into something uncomfortable and almost threatening.
My thesis work, Even Out of Adoration , is an exploration of self control and assigned behaviours of women. It was born from my history of feelings I had as a child, and still often have, when I would become frustrated or angry. My grandmother has had a huge collection of Swarovsky crystals that I was never aloud to touch ever since I can remember. When I would get enraged, I always wanted to break them and other things, but never could, so I never did. For the piece, I collected glass pieces that resembled precious keepsakes over the course of several months. I then displayed them on shelves before destroying them with an umbrella while wearing a feminine dress and high heels. I found the fact that this violent act is kept beautiful through my fashion choice and demeanor to be interesting and important.

Name some of your performance art heroes. Who has inspired/influenced your performance art? What is your favorite performance art piece EVER by someone else?
I love Jill Pangallo. She does a lot of character and identity work with an air of comedy, too. I also really love Wynne Greenwood's work, especially her Tracy and The Plastics pieces. Even though she's a photographer, Nikki S. Lee is amazing and it definitely influences my pieces, especially the ones that deal with race and stereotypes - her series "Projects" are definitely performances captured through photography; so I don't think she is only a photographer. William Weggman and Reggie Watts are both just hilarious to me. I tend to gravitate toward works that are funny in some way, but also interesting conceptually. They've all influenced me a lot in my performance work, I have to say. I don't know if I have an absolute, end-all-be-all favourite performance piece, though.

Visit Skippy's website at
Maybe drop her a line and welcome her to town!

No comments:

Post a Comment