Artist Profile: Steven Cooper

Assorted single stem flowers by Steven Cooper come in an array of vivid colors and range in size from 18 inches to 6 feet high.

“The world is an incredible source of design,” says metal artist Steven Cooper. “All you have to do is look outside your door to see the shapes of flowers and trees, how water flows over rocks… that imagery is what I try to include in all my work.” Springing from a ready source of inspiration all around the 200-year-old barn in New York’s Hudson Valley that he renovated into his studio/home (Steven Cooper Metalsmith), Cooper’s hand-crafted work reflects his enthusiastic pursuit of his art.

Cooper’s sculptural metal flowers, available in a rainbow of vivid colors, exemplify the sheer joy of a bright summer day and are among his most popular works. The line emerged when he made the first pieces as a surprise for his wife.

Cut from 4×8-foot sheets of steel and then individually handcrafted using tools adapted from his early days as a silversmith, Cooper textures, shapes and refines each bloom. Sizes range from 18 inches to 6 feet high. Three to five coats of industrial-strength oil-based paint make the flowers weatherproof and fade-resistant.

Almost every artist remembers that epiphanal moment, that lightning strike of certainty, that set them on their chosen path. For Cooper that moment came early, in an industrial arts class in junior high school where he found beauty in metal’s ability to yield to design. He later attended Rochester Institute of Technology and its School for American Crafts, studying under the internationally renowned Danish silversmith Hans Christensen. Cooper’s most influential teacher, Christensen encouraged clean design and insisted that his students “never add anything that doesn’t belong.” Thirty years later, that remains Cooper’s mantra.

Cooper also crafts limited-production and one-of-a-kind custom jewelry and Judaica. He is a veteran exhibitor at the annual Buyers Market of American Craft show in Philadelphia, and his work is sold in galleries and museums around the country. His greatest satisfaction comes when his work brings a smile to a customer’s face. “When I see that smile,” he says, “I know I’ve done my job.”