Saturday, March 12, 2011

High school students in Ohio learn about art from an autistic perspective


MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- Students at Madison High School got an up-close look at some remarkable artwork March 9 and the artist behind it.

Courtney Cooper (pictured) has been drawing since he was 3 years old, and he specializes in maps of Cincinnati.

"I like to draw the city," Cooper said. "I love walking around the city of Cincinnati."

Cooper is autistic, and he worked with the art class as part of a grant from the Middletown Community Foundation to show students that anything is possible, even with a disability.

"He's amazing," said sophomore Cassidy Metcalf. "His work, I can only hope to do something like that one day."

Cooper draws only with Bic pens, which many of the students – who are used to erasing mistakes – found a little scary.

But some of the students were inspired to try Cooper's technique.

"I wasn't planning on going to college for anything like this, but seeing what he can do and it opens me up to see I can pursue something like this," said senior Ryan Thobe.

Each map takes Cooper about 10 months to complete, and his favorite spot on the map is Fountain Square.

He also incorporates special messages in his work, and he loves to focus on the city's German roots.

Cooper works with Visionaries and Voices, a group dedicated to helping disabled people share their art.

"It makes me feel happy, such a happy, precious person," Cooper said.

Cooper's work will be featured next month by Cincinnati Magazine, and it will also be displayed at the PAC Gallery in East Walnut Hills.