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Michael Cooper: A Sculptural Odyssey at Fuller Craft Museum

Michael Cooper, Boy Scout Special, 1977. Machined and anodized aluminum. Collection of the Holmes Family. Photo by Michael Chase.

The Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts is currently presenting Michael Cooper: A Sculptural Odyssey, 1968 – 2011. On display through May 13, 2012 the show focuses on a career spanning more than 40 years where Cooper has explored the frailties of human nature through increasingly complex wood and mixed media sculptures. With equal parts wit and technical adroitness this exhibition presents some of his most provocative works, often exploring the dark side of our fascination with violence, power, and greed.


Michael Cooper, Trainer Tricylce III, 1993. Wenge, sycamore. Collection of Dennis and Kathy Varni. Photo by Michael Chase.

The handgun is a common theme in Cooper’s work, a visual representation of the pervasiveness of violence in our society. The gun serves as the frame of a child’s tricycle or sprouts a selection of tools in the manner of a scout’s pocketknife. It becomes, carved and rendered in every detail, a totem to the weapon’s illusion of power. Among the work featured in the exhibition are a number of fantastic hybrid furniture/vehicles that reflect the influence of the custom car culture of Cooper’s youth in California. There is an irony in these works that is both playful and darkly comedic while retaining an earnest examination.


Michael Cooper, Peaches, 2004. Wood, steel, aluminum, wheels, found objects. Collection of Gayle and Michael Cooper. Photo by Michael Chase.

Underlying the expressive forms is Cooper’s exquisite craftsmanship. His technical precision is perhaps best observed in his working with wood, often laminating multiple layers before carving or bending the material into his characteristic curvilinear forms. Certainly overdeveloped for an activity as simple as sitting, each work appears instead to be suited for a method of transportation well beyond the typical commute— whether in his fanciful forms of cultural commentary or implied transportation.


Located at 455 Oak St. in Brockton, Mass. The Fuller Craft Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.— 5 p.m., with free admission for all Wednesdays from 5—9 p.m. Admission is $8 adults, $5 seniors and students, free for members and children 12 and under. For more information on Fuller Craft exhibitions and events please visit or call (508) 588-6000.