This week we focus on Louis Copt who’s paintings and collage work can be seen right now in the Convergence exhibit. We’ll discover how the Art Students League in New York helped to shape his career and why the Kansas landscape is close to the artist’s heart.
Trish Nixon: It has become increasingly difficult for one to seek out nature untouched by human hands. Suburban sprawl and strip malls seem to be defining a new kind of landscape. Do you see your work as a type of Kansas documentation?
Louis Copt: That is true. I see myself as sort of a historian documenting what I see for future generations. I have been painting this area of Kansas for many years and am astonished at the rapid expansion of development in every direction.
TN: You work in many different media, what is your favorite?
LC: I started out in watercolor many years ago and eventually moved to acrylic. I have now transitioned to oil, which is my favorite media. But, I still work in watercolor, pastel, acrylic and drawing…whichever seems to suite the subject or the outcome I am looking for. I also enjoy photography and have done that on and off most of my career.
TN: How did your study at the Art Students League in New York City prepare you for a career as a full-time artist?
LC: Living and working in New York was a great experience. It allowed me to expand my horizons and measure myself against other artists. I came back to Kansas inspired and confident that the artists here in the mid-west are no better or worse than the artists who make New York (or L.A.) their home. The advantage they have is more population and exposure for sales and promotional opportunities.
TN: What is it about Rural Kansas and the Flint Hills that fascinates you?
LC: I grew up in Kansas and spent time roaming the Flint Hills. I also spent a fair amount of time on my Grandmother’s farm as a child and I think that has become part of my artistic vocabulary.
TN: You mention the influence of abstract action painting in connection to your collage work, are there particular artists that you are looking at or is it the style itself?
TN: Your collage “Would You” adds an experimental element to your body of work. Would you expand on the concept behind this work?
LC: Comic books were always a part of my life as a kid. My idea here is to combine some of that imagery with the abstract nature of painting and working in a non-objective way. A friend of mine did his PhD dissertation on women as hunters. I am interested in the role guns play in our American culture and how that squares with our perceptions of power and who has it. My goal is to provoke some thought and perhaps make people a bit uncomfortable and think about the messages we are giving to our young people.