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When asked when art became a part of his life, Cooper Diers is quick to say, “Art isn’t a part of life. It isn’t a way of life. It is life.” Growing up with creativity surrounding him, especially on his mother’s side of the family, he explains that creativity and imagination are simply who and what we are.
Diers’ influence and inspiration comes from a variety of sources. “I cannot ignore that every moment of every day that I have existed has shaped (and continues to shape) the way in which I live my life. It is a continuum of exchange wherein I respond to that which is around me, and it in turn responds to me, and so forth.” From his home to his many musical instruments and other possessions, each piece of his surroundings has an effect on his creative flow, and he embraces the wear and tear these items endure over time. “I have a tendency to let my material items take on all the flaws they develop and do little to fix them because with every additional piece of information that is added; a scratch, a dent, a slightly misguided line, it feeds me additional information and I, in turn, incorporate those elements. The nuances of change and deterioration are endlessly fascinating and influence me as much as I contribute to them.”
There are “a million and one” artists from varying disciplines that Diers has taken a special interest in. “I could provide an extensive list of musicians and visual artists, philosophers and iconoclasts, and all I would feel that I would convey is a little knowledge flexing. Knowing a name and remembering it is a skill that doesn’t do much outside of my own obsessions, really.” What he does take away from each influential artist is a piece of what makes them unique.
His own unique artistic style is the result of trial and error. “Imitation, which hopefully leads to emulation, and ultimately innovation.” While he doesn’t necessarily believe that what he’s doing is anything new, he does feel that he incorporates indeterminate methods to disassociate himself from being the named creator of a given work. “I like to keep that exchange with material and myself open. […] I just like to set up scenarios and watch them play themselves out.” He believes there are always going to be obstacles, but that creativity is all about coming up with ways to work with it and around it, inventing new directions in the process.
When considering what his goals are for his work, Diers gives little to no consideration to what he wants it to do for people. “I do this for myself and am overjoyed that others are interested in it and can be moved by it, but I don’t have any agenda for what I feel its functionality is outside of myself.” During its creation, he describes his work as an escape. He creates for the purpose of self-expression without the focused intent to market, sell, and build a reputation as an artist. In fact, he struggles with the idea of making a career out of making art – a conflict he feels never resolves itself and will be revisited his whole life, no matter what role his work takes on.
That said, Diers’ long-term goals tend to shift in and out of focus. “There are times when it seems foolish to put myself anywhere near artists of the past and present, individuals who really seem to take it more seriously than I feel I do. Other times I want nothing more but to be noticed and recognized as having a unique perspective and making something that needs to be made and seen, and that I can say is my livelihood.” Ultimately, he doesn’t feel self-disciplined enough to be a full time artist, but would like to have the continual ability to create his art and “start filtering out some aspects of life that are only obligatory because of financial requirements.”
As a self-described optimist, Diers sees all the percolating potential a modest city like Sheboygan, Wisconsin has to offer. “Wisconsin and the greater Midwest have a deep history containing individuals with some of the most original bodies of work that I have ever been exposed to. Knowing that helps me to feel as though it is always a place that will facilitate such minds and activities.”
Image left: Cloud Sharers by Cooper Diers
Erika Block is a professional writer, artist and art director working exclusively with the art, publishing and music industries through her company, Creative Studios. Connect with her at facebook.com/elblockcreative..