Allison B. Cooke

Artist Statement


You could not step twice into the same river, for other waters are ever flowing on to you.

Quoted by Plato in Cratylus


Traces and vestiges that reveal the constancy of change fascinate me. The original ideas for my abstract paintings might come from faded frescoes, worn walls, gestural marks, or the random patinas that evolve as a myriad of elements alter surfaces. There is an endless story embedded in residual fragments that commemorate the passage of time. I want to suggest evocative dreamlike spaces that hold feeling and a sense of history.


One of the most meaningful influences in my current work comes from spending two months every summer in Florence, Italy teaching at the Santa Reparta International School of Art. Everyday, I experience an abundant palimpsest of imagery. In the span of one day, I see remnants of color in the architecture, decorative patterns, figurative elements, and sun parched graffiti sprawled walls juxtaposed with world-class art treasures. These experiences, intertwined with memory and invention, continue to feed my studio processes when I return home. My paintings celebrate the interplay of past and present, imagined and tangible, that which is lost and what remains.


The recent paintings were all made on panel with oil paint, beeswax, and other media such as powdered marble, dry pigment, gold leaf and drawing media. Many unpredictable layers are developed through intuition, experimentation and chance. The process includes adding and subtracting paint, erasing, excavating, scraping, and improvisational mark making. Ultimately, I want these paintings to represent the beauty that is found in objects and places that are continuously shifting within the transformation of time.


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 teaching career, Allison has taught a myriad of drawing and painting studio courses at the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and, since 2000, full time in the Department of Art and Design housed in the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Allison is also the Director and Faculty for a summer study abroad program at Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy. For the last seven years she has been researching, developing and teaching an intensive four-week summer course in Renaissance Painting techniques focusing on egg tempera and gilding found in both traditional and contemporary 
studio practice.

Allison has an extensive national exhibition record spanning three decades. She is 
permanent art collections in Japan and India and was recently invited to join an international group of artists in a project called The Drawing Box. Thus far, Allison has exhibited her mixed media drawings with these artists at three locations in Ireland and Malaysia and will be participating in an upcoming group show in Germany.

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