Former Artist in Residence Barbara Cooper shows her work in Chicago

By Jenny Zeller

Barbara Cooper, Rhiza, 2002, Wood and Glue, Collection of Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest

Chicago-based sculpture artist Barbara Cooper studies trees and observes nature. Cooper’s artistic practice is informed by her long-standing interest in the effects of nature on wood and other organic materials. She was a Bernheim Artist in Residence in 2002 where she created Rhiza, a beautifully arched form created from heavily layered and intricately woven wood veneer.  This prized piece from our collection is currently on display in the Education Center.

Cooper was already an established artist while in residence at Bernheim, but her work has flourished since that time with inclusions in countless exhibitions, numerous awards, and several public art commissions under her belt. What remains a constant in her work is the process of growth, evolution, and her awe of nature.

The artist at work on Surge in 2002.





She currently brings the outdoor to life inside the lobby of the 353 North Clark Building in Chicago, with the installation of three sculptures: Column (85” x 19” x 23”), Breach 2 (15” x 75” x 30”) and Breach 3 (20” x 21” x 34”).  This installation will be on display for the next six months and is open to the public, so check it out when you are in the windy city.


Lobby of the 353 North Clark Building in Chicago. Left to right: Column, Breach 2 and Breach 3.


Cooper’s work is in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI; Smithsonian Museum of American Art and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, both in Sheboygan, WI among others.

For more information about Barbara Cooper, check out her website at

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