Andrew Mellon Professor
Combining story, history and memory into panoramic murals has become the theme of Doug Cooper's work. He typically works with local residents and incorporates their lives into the works. He developed his first mural, now at Pittsburgh's Heinz History Center, with a Pittsburgh senior center (1992). In 1994 he completed another with elderly for the Philadelphia Courthouse. The 200 ft-long mural for Carnegie Mellon Center (1996) shows the campus and Pittsburgh in three time periods. The mural series for Seattle's King County Courthouse (2005) depicts the geography, history and land-use patterns of that region. On two occasions, Cooper has used mural projects as vehicles for foreign language instruction. In 1996, assisted by CMU students, a German professor and Frankfurt elderly, he created a 9m x 6m mural for Frankfurt's central market. A similar process was used for the University of Rome mural (2005).
Cooper's recent murals have used the constraints and opportunities of the architectural setting as a source of content. The height, sight lines and circulation in lobbies at corporate headquarters Mascaro (1999) and Michael Baker (2003) and the University of California San Francisco were used as opportunities to depict the histories and aspirations of each institution. The 200 foot-long University of Rome mural in Esquilino (2005) uses ventilator grates as an element to transform a lecture hall into a piazza filled with people enacting the history of the district.
Cooper has authored two books on drawing: Steel Shadows (University of Pittsburgh) and Drawing and Perceiving (Wiley).