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  • Writer's pictureLarry Cope

Larry Cope Capturing Beauty, Strength and History



Black Panther

Black Panther Is a Modern take on the Black Panther Party and the civil unrest of the late 60s and 70s. In the right is a sign that reads “Black Life Matter”. The sign represents the civil rights protest during the summer of 2020 after the death of George Floyd by the hands of the Minnesota police. This image is more relevant today than ever.


 

His powerful images are compelling, but what caught my attention was his poster on Bronzeville, a historic Chicago community. Larry Cope captures the beauty, strength and history of of African Americans, and much of it in Chicago started in the Bronzeville community. We welcome your work, Larry Cope. Gare open! - Victorine



 

Artist Statement



I love depicting African Americans as beautiful, positive, strong, successful, fashionable, and sensual beings. In a world that often views us in a negative way, I want people to view us as I view us; colorful and positively divine! I also view the human body a vision of beauty, something to be admired.


I continue to work on improving my “style” of color pencils art. I like using color pencils because it gives me so much control. I can either use soft strokes for a gentle tone and smooth blending colors to sharpen lines for details like eye lashes, brows, and hair. I also use a paintbrush and hand sanitizer for blending colors.


My pieces start with a concept in my head. These concepts can come from several sources: a photograph, music, conversations, or dreams. That’s why I keep a small sketch pad on my nightstand by the bed and then put pencil to paper to develop rough conceptional sketches. I collect images for references like faces, poises, clothing etc. in my reference file which I call my “reference morgue.” My go to source is pinterest.com or magazines clippings. I also have art anatomy books for muscle and bone structure. I use these references to develop my sketches.


I am extremely thankful for this God given blessing and my goal is to share my gift of beautiful African American art to the masses. I get great joy from the appreciation for art lovers and collectors. That is why I started my art commerce site www.larrycopeart.com to sell prints of my works. (You can follow me on Facebook and Instagram.)


Lastly, art is more than a hobby; it is who I am. It’s a part of my DNA. To me it is a form of self-expression and a means of escapism from the stress of the world. It helps me to relax, it gives me peace, confidence, and joy. Artist Bob Ross sums it up this way:

“Art is not just a hobby. It is a way of life that teaches us important skills like creativity, problem-solving, and perseverance.”


 



Nature Girl is my take on the Nat “King” Cole’s hit song “Nature Boy.” She is enchanting but mysterious. She is shy but comfortable with nature. Her hair is flowing like a river covering one of her eyes. The one exposed eye is haunting. This is one of my favorite pieces. • Appeared in the 2019 Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity Exhibit (Chicago) • Regional Semi-finalist, Bombay/Sapphire Artisan Series, 2018)


 

Say It Loud

Say It Loud is a take on the Black Power movement of the late sixties/early seventies using the lyrics of James Brown’s “Say it Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud.”

Appeared in the 2019 Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity Exhibit (Chicago)


All images are copyright 2023©.

 

Bio


I am a self-taught artist. I started drawing at an early age and credit my artistic aspirations in part to my big sister Ann. She took a correspondence art class through a school that advertised the "Draw Winky" in magazines and comic books. I would borrow her art books and draw. I got so good at it that by age seven, I was doing figurative drawings.


During my college years I created the design and illustrated promotional posters and pluggers for my fraternity’s dance parties. Surprisingly, a lot of students kept the posters as artwork for their dorm rooms! I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and worked in that field for over 30 years.


One of my career highlights includes ten years at Liturgy Training Publications (the publishing wing of the Archdiocese of Chicago). In 2007 through what I consider “divine intervention”, I was selected by the late Francis Cardinal George to re-design the ceiling medallions for Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.


In recent years, I credit my mother-in-law Vivian White for re-energizing my passion for art. As she watched me sketch one day, she asked "Why are you creating art that no one will see?" A few weeks later I met the late, renowned artist Melvin King who invited me to the Creative Artist Association in Chicago. With their support, I’ve exhibited my art throughout Chicago including the 57th Street Art Festival and the South Shore Cultural Center.


I was a regional semi-finalist in the 2018 Bombay Sapphire Art Series, a national competition, for my piece “Nature Girl”. In 2019 and 2020, several of my art pieces were selected for the Museum of Science and Industry's “Black Creativity” Art Exhibit in Chicago.

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