Allison B. Cooke was born in Midwest City, Oklahoma. She spent most of her childhood living on the east coast before moving to Wisconsin in 1970. Allison holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Drawing and Painting from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee.
Throughout her thirty-year teaching career at the college level, Allison taught myriad drawing and painting studio courses at the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and was a tenured Senior Lecturer in the Department of Art and Design housed in the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is now a full-time artist and works out of two studios. Cooke paints both in a well-seasoned attic in her old Victorian home, but most often in a spacious studio within a commercial building in the Lincoln Warehouse next to the Kinnickinnic River in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Cooke is presently the Director and Adjunct Professor for a summer study abroad program, offered through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, at the Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy. For the last consecutive twelve years, she has been researching, developing and teaching an intensive four-week summer course in Renaissance Painting techniques. This course explores the use of dry pigments, making egg tempera paint, gold leaf and stamping found in both traditional and contemporary ?studio practice.
Cooke has an extensive national exhibition record spanning over three decades. She is in permanent art collections in Germany, Japan, India, and Ireland. Cooke was invited to join an international group of artists in a collaborative traveling exhibition project called The DrawingBox, where she exhibited mixed media drawings with these artists in Ireland, Italy, Malaysia and the Philippines. In December 2015, she participated in a group invitational painting exhibition called Kunst is/Art is in Kunstraum, Germany. In the spring of 2017, Cooke’s paintings and writing were published, with one hundred fellow contemporary artists from around the world, in a comprehensive new book by Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin called Cold Wax Medium: Techniques, Concepts & Conversations.
Selected Art Exhibitions
“Languages of Abstraction” MA Doran Gallery, Tulsa, Oklahoma (Invitational Gallery Group Show) Forthcoming August 23rd
“Art on the Circle, Miami Circle Art Stroll” January and February, Thomas Deans Gallery of Fine Art, Atlanta, Georgia (Gallery Group Shows)
Holiday Exhibition, Thomas Deans Fine Art Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia (Invitational Group Show)
“Converge: Where Classical and Contemporary Art Collide,” 25 CPW Gallery, New York City, New York , Curated by Allison Malafronte, former Senior Editor of American Artist Magazine (Invitational Group Show)
“Worlds within Walls,” Founders Gallery, University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc, Manitowoc, Wisconsin (Solo Show)
“Continuum 2012 Art and Design Alumni Exhibition,” Arts Center Gallery, Peck School of the Arts, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
“Invitational Salon Exhibition of Small Works”New Arts Program Kutztown, Pennsylvania (Invitational – National Show)
“Vestiges” Elaine Erickson Gallery, Third Ward Gallery NIght and Day, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Two-person Show)
My paintings celebrate the interplay of past and present, imagined and tangible, that which is lost and what remains. I have always been drawn to the physicality and evidence of transformation as a unique presence in the passage of time. The patinas that build up where architectural structures and atmospheric effects coalesce are especially interesting to me. Surfaces with a built up history of shifting colors and mark making, whether random or intentional, carry the visual and poetic resonance I seek in my paintings. While the fragments of ancient walls and fading frescoes in Italy are a particular favorite, moments from my everyday life are often just as influential. The ever-malleable nature of layered paint and its unpredictable qualities simulates the changing nature of experience and is conducive to the creation of my open-ended abstract works.
One of the most prevalent and compelling influences in my work originates from spending the last twelve years in Florence, Italy teaching in the summer at the Santa Reparata International School of Art. While there, I encounter an abundant palimpsest within the juxtaposed kaleidoscope of imagery. I find inspiration in the aging architecture, time-worn paintings and sculptures, and other world-class art treasures existing side by side with realities of present-day street culture. These overlaps, intertwined with memory and invention, continue to inspire ideas when I return. However, I constantly seek influences in other unexpected places. Wherever they may be, I am drawn to the stories suggested, but sometimes overlooked, in both urban and natural environments.
I find pleasure in the experimental nature of mixed media combinations and thrive on unfamiliarity when making an image. Most of my paintings are made on a braced panel with oil paint, beeswax, and other things such as powdered marble, dry pigment, gold leaf, and varying drawing tools. The process includes adding and subtracting paint, excavating, scraping, printing onto the surface and improvisational calligraphic mark making. The presence of my drawn and written marks sometimes reference the ideas found in Asemic or illegible writing. At other times, these marks read more as abstract drawings executed in an unpredictable manner. This approach to painting seeks connections between recognition and suggestion, specificity and chance. Ultimately, I am interested in creating works that evoke materiality and meaning from a free-spirited studio practice – with no preconceived notions of what may happen.