University at Buffalo's
Department of African American Studies

William Y. Cooper
An exhibition of his select paintings

  • Place: The Department Art Gallery, Department of African American Studies, 732 Clemens Hall, North Campus.
  • Date: May 12 through June 2, 2006
  • Time: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

  • Further information/ directions:  call (716) 645 2082
    TITLE OF WORK                 DIMENSIONS   MEDIUM 

    Waiting in New Orleans / I    48 H x 36 W   Oil on Canvas 
    Waiting in New Orleans / II   48 H x 36 W   Oil on Canvas 
    Strange Fruit                         48 H x 36 W   Oil on Canvas 
    Those Volatile Sixties            48 H x 36 W   Oil on Canvas 
    Sistas Ballet                           46 H x 36W    Oil on Canvas 
    Untitled                                 46 H x 37 ½    Oil on Canvas 

    A Note by the Painter

    Painting is first and foremost a visual and visceral experience.  Composition is critical to my work.  I use it to compel the viewer to stop and contemplate the illusions I create through the relationships of line, form and color.  Usually, I am symbolically expressing an idea I care deeply about.  The meanings may change with the observer, as each person views the work through the lens of their own experience.  My work is thematically and stylistically a fusion of my American experience and my African heritage. 

    My work is not as much about the subject as it is about how I render the subject.  I use symbols to express ideas and concepts.  Color, which is never haphazardly selected, shapes the mood of the composition and creates rhythm and harmony.


    William Y. Cooper is a professionally trained painter. He received his bachelor of fine arts degree from the University at Buffalo in 1975. 
    Over the past twenty years, he has worked as a painter, printmaker, muralist and certified art teacher within the Buffalo Public School System. Though he has experience in various media and disciplines, including acrylic, water color and oil; oil is his preferred medium, as it seems to allow him the fullest range of free expression. For 15 years, he was also the proprietor of Bora Sanaa Enterprises, a retail, African Art store which specialized in East and West African antiquities and artifacts. His work as a collector afforded him the opportunity to travel extensively throughout East and West Africa.

    Cooper has been commissioned to create portraits of prominent African Americans. His commissioned portrait of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hangs in the Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library of Canisius College. Other subjects he has captured on canvas include notable Western New Yorkers such as the Honorable Arthur O. Eve, Honorable Barbara M. Sims, Geneva B. Scruggs and James Bell.

    His paintings have been selected for numerous group and one-man exhibits. Some of his works are part of the permanent collection of the Castellani Art Museum in Niagara Falls, New York. He was twice selected to participate in the Annual Atlanta Life African American National Art Competition/Exhibition in Atlanta, Georgia. The National Art Gallery in Accra, Ghana has sponsored his work in a one-man show. Numerous individual art collectors own his work.

    As a strong advocate of the arts and art education, he teaches art to students 6-12 years of age at Buffalo Arts Studio in the Tri-Main Center and in the Education Department of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

    Mr. Cooper describes himself as "an Afrocentric artist whose world view is rooted in an African frame of reference." He says "thematically and stylistically, my works are a fusion of two cultures: my American experience and my African heritage. My work is conceptual, subjective and highly metaphorical. I believe that true art is the creative expression of our experiences, and probably, the noblest expression of the human spirit. If so, then art must embody the highest ideals and aspirations of humankind.


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