Boston College Replica of Berlin Wall Now a
Peace Memorial in Northern Ireland
art created by fine arts professor mark cooper and bc students
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (June 2012) — A replica of the Berlin Wall created in 2009 by Boston College artist and Fine Arts Department Adjunct Professor Mark Cooper and students to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its fall has received a new life in Northern Ireland, where it has been reworked as a peace memorial.
Students from a number of local schools participated in the arts project in Strabane, according to the local newspaper, Strabane Chronicle. They worked with professional street artists to create bold and colorful imagery, and to explore such themes as barriers to living in a border area, ways to promote working together across the political and physical divides, and issues of diversity. Strabane suffered extensive damage during the Troubles.
“There is a tremendous power and impact in experiential learning,” Cooper said of the Northern Ireland project. “The young people have made a public statement about the desire to break down walls and barriers that have existed for a very long time. Their combined efforts make for a powerful statement on reconciliation. Having had the opportunity to discuss the types of walls we build in our minds, that we inherit from our parents and peers, and that, although invisible, are very much present, participants then came up with agreed upon ways to visually represent taking down these walls. This is an experience they will never forget. It also impacts their family, friends, and community.
“There are powerful additional benefits from the collaborative project,” he added. “Placing the finished artwork in a public place of respect is empowering to the individual participants as well as the group. Each participant feels ownership through the process of conceptualizing and actualizing their efforts. This effort is a roadmap to their succeeding in the future in any number of endeavors specific to their interests, like career choices or ways to benefit from working together. This collaborative effort is a combination of the best of all worlds: a powerful visual statement generated from the conversation between individual contributors irrelevant of style or skill, driven by the urgent idea of reconciliation and tearing down walls.”
Cooper's paintings and sculptures--made with fiberglass pieces, layered with rice paper, paint, silk-screens, and varying images and patterns--explore dualities of culture and meaning. He is best-known for large public art pieces which he makes in collaboration with children, hospital patients, students and other constituencies, for such institutions as The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College, Capital Children's Museum in Washington, DC, and the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris. Cooper's work is in several major museums, as well as corporate and private collections.
This month, he is lecturing in Beijing at Tsinghua University and traveling to Jingdezhen, a noted porcelain center, to make pieces for a forthcoming exhibition in Boston.
Cooper also is participating in a museum exhibition in Düsseldorf, Germany: Die Polaroid Collection, NRW-Forum Düsseldorf, through August 5, 2012.
--Rosanne Pellegrini, Boston College Office of News & Public Affairs