Helen Maurene Cooper is a social practice artist who uses numerous photographic processes with installation and publication to connect and build relationships, explore feminism, entrepreneurship, small economies, the power of adornment, and intimacy.
Since 2008, her worked has been focused on place- based exploration, specifically within beauty- centered communities in Chicago. Subjects have included custom made prom dresses, drag queen culture, and the specialty minority-owned nail businesses of Chicago’s west side. Most recently, Cooper has exhibited her work about prom culture on Chicago’s South Side at the Arts Incubator through the University of Chicago with her collaborator, fashion designer Suzette Opara. Other recent solo exhibitions include Bert Green Fine Art (Chicago), The City Gallery through the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Chicago Artists Collection as well as site specific installations at Nailicious and Polished Salons in Chicago. Recent selected group exhibitions include, The Soap Factory (Minneapolis), Girls Club (FT. Lauderdale), Vue: National Contemporary Art Fair (Dublin), Ireland, Claremorris Gallery (Ireland) and Blue Star (San Antonio).
She has received funding for exhibitions through the University of Chicago and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Her work has been reviewed by the Chicago Tribune, New City, International Forum for Contemporary Visual Arts, New York Photo review, Temporary Art Review and Bust.com.
Her monograph, Paint & Polish, Cultural Economy and Visual Culture from the West Side, Onomatopee, Eindhoven Netherlands, debuts in 2017 with an accompanying exhibtion in the Netherlands in May.