The 3-1-5: Kara Cook

Meet Kara Cook, a multimedia artist in Syracuse, New York. We met up at her Delevan Center art studio, which is located at 509 W. Fayette St. to kick off this interview series featuring creative types and doers in the community.

The space boasts as comfortable of an atmosphere as that green couch seen in the photo. Her artwork and logo-featured clothing items decorate the walls and racks. Music lightly plays in the background; through the speaker of an easily transportable record player the notes are sprayed in the air and freshens the aura of the studio.

Cook is a born-and-raised Syracuse resident and Syracuse University alumnus is an art teacher for her former school district, Cicero-North Syracuse. She minored in painting and figure drawing, but education was also a passion of hers.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. It’s a stable career,” Cook said. “I like working with kids. I am able to make things, and (teaching) is a career that gives me the time to do that.”

Her work can be seen throughout the community, but in this purposely quick interview, here’s a little bit more about who she is, what she is about and where you can find her pieces.

You recently had a one-night show at The PressRoom Pub (220 Harold Pl., Syracuse). 

The name of the show was Melodic Destruction. For the past couple years I’ve had this obsession with spaces that are forgotten around central New York.

This particular show started around my piece “Poetry in Motion.” This piece I was painting at Infinitepop, and it is my interpretation of a song in general. The repetition of the chords mirrored the repetition of the panels of the house. The textures in the music are mirrored the surface and in the paints. After I created that piece is where the idea of having each painting inspired by a song within the show.

With “Poetry in Motion,” the song attached is “Sound and Color” by Alabama Shakes.

As stated, the show focused on giving new light to those forgotten spaces in central New York, but also bringing in those added aspects of music and song. With each piece having a particular song attached to it, people could scan the QR code attached to the description and listen to it through headphones.

Kara Cook in her Delavan Center studio. (Photo: Daniel Ware Photography)

Other than forgotten places, what else inspires you?

Those forgotten places really do inspire me … well, just, the beauty in the world inspires me. I have other directions I’m going to work toward. I have new projects ideas in my head, but it just a matter of when they get done.

One project I’m working on is inspired by my love of vintage and old things, how they have a story behind them. I’m taking old photographs and expanding the compositions, drawing what I think is outside the frame. That’s a series I’m starting on, so there should be a show down the road. “Beyond the Borders” is what I’m calling it.

I also want to get back into figure drawing after all these paintings. It was my passion in college. In each of these paintings I was finding a story of myself. I’ll eventually do a self portrait series, exploring how others view me and how I view me.

I’m hoping in the next year, maybe two years, we’ll see … I want to do a series on the homeless and have the proceeds go toward a nonprofit organization.

I get a huge inspiration from Jasper Johns. I’d love to meet him one day. He’s such a cool person. His work in the ’50s and ’60s is what he’s known for, but his experimentation with textures definitely influences my pieces. It’s what I’ve always been attracted to.

Pulling inspiration from music really helps, and there is so much live local music happening. I’m really thankful for that.

Do you prefer painting as your artistic medium?

I do experiment with different mediums, because I do mixed media. I generally have a process that’s really comfortable. I’ll work on board, canvas or other surfaces and recently did a painting on an old window. That was different for me, so I’d say I experiment more with surface and then play with acrylics and different dry media on top of it.

Do you have any instances of creativity block? How do you break out of it?

There will be times when I’m within a painting and I’ll kind of get mad at it. I’ll be in the middle of the painting and I’ll really hate it, say that we’re in a fight. I’ll have to work it out and eventually — usually — I’ll work it out with the painting.

I usually have too many ideas in my head, and it’s making that time to do them all.

With that photo series, I’ve been collecting photos for three years. Something always comes first. It’s when the right times comes to really execute them.

What are you thankful and positive about the arts community in central New York?

The Infinitepop shop is opening up again. A bunch of us local makers, whatever our craft is and whether it’s art or music or clothing, are getting together and opening a space in Armory Square (at the corner of Franklin and Walton Streets).

We’ll be open for two months (November and December) for everybody to see these different works, to buy gifts locally, to showcase local musicians and there will be a variety of workshops and events. I’m thankful to be a part of this community.

Featured photo used with permission from Kara Cook. Photo credit: Daniel Ware Photography. See more of his work through Facebook and Instagram.


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