For more than a decade, Susan Cooper has helped make your wait for an RTD train a lot more pleasant. As a member of the art team, she's helped with projects at many of the stations. She's also the creator of the Tufts Flyover that connects Tufts and Santa Fe. We recently caught up with Cooper to discuss what moves her about transportation art.
Westword: Where are you from? Where do you reside now?
Susan Cooper:I am from Los Angeles. I have an MA and BA in art from UC Berkeley. I have lived in the Denver area, now in Englewood, for over thirty years.
How did your collaboration with RTD come about?
For the Tufts Flyover: There was a call for artists to be on an artist team. The committee for the artwork for the Tufts Flyover contacted me to address the walls under the flyover. That flyover had to be reinforced and therefore bolts were visible. The RTD art committee and engineers felt that art would distract the public from what was unsightly. Now people notice bold art rather than the bolts.
For the art team: The public call for that position was in 2000 (I think, anyway). We were selected as individual artists who were to work with other selected artists to be part of the art team. Initially three of us were selected to be on the art team. Two of us stayed with the project for four years. We were to design enhancements for the stations and to be part of the selection committees for commissioned art at the stations. Some of our responsibilities were railings, windscreen benches, bike racks, a garage-wall enhancement and canopy pillars.
How did you come up with the Idea for Tufts Flyover?
RTD is a large travel system for buses and light rail, so my theme became "travel." However, I decided to address ultimate travel systems. These systems are the moon traveling around the earth and the earth traveling around the sun. On the north wall the sun appears; this wall is daytime and earth. The background is light blue and the earth is in warm colors of earth, heated by the sun. The layers of steel that compose the earth are convex, coming out from the wall. The south side is nighttime: The background is dark, the moon in the sky is silvery and shines over an ocean. The ocean appears concave, going into the structure. Materials are steel, which is baked powder-coat enamel-painted.
What or who inspired this piece? And how?
The idea of universal travel is the inspiration for this piece; the installation is on the walls for the flyover at Santa Fe and Tufts. (A flyover is a span across a street for a rail system -- a small bridge.)
When people are on their daily journey and walk past your work, what do you hope they are thinking and feeling?
My hope is that people will think of how enormous the universe is and what a perfect pattern we live within. I also hope that the art slows people's minds for a few seconds.
How do you feel about public transportation?
Public transportation is convenient, useful and necessary, giving the growing population.
What is your favorite piece of public art?
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Picasso's sculpture at Daley Plaza in Chicago and the nearby Chagall mosaic murals are favorites. To view more of Susan Cooper's work, visit her website.