The students of Cicely L. Tyson Elementary School in East Orange were visited by award-winning author and illustrator Floyd Cooper this month, and the excitement is still palpable.
Floyd Cooper introduced the students to his special technique, which he refers to as the “subtractive process”, whereby he uses an eraser to create the picture by removing paint from the painting. The students were on the edge of their seats while Mr. Cooper pulled and stretched and reused his eraser until the face of a man emerged from the canvas. Not only did Mr. Cooper offer insight into the artistic process, he also shared with the students some valuable life lessons, and detailed his own journey through the professional art world.
The presentation was inspiring for all audience members, big and small, students and staff alike. It was a joy to watch Mr. Cooper engage the students. He even made a visit to the school’s art studio and art teacher, Emily Konopinski, where he sat down with a small of group of fourth graders to critique their work. The chance to share and discuss their own work with someone as talented as Mr. Cooper has left a lasting impression on the students, and continues to motivate the young artists during their creative process.
Perhaps the most important message Mr. Cooper left with the students and teachers was this, “If there’s something in your heart, that you want, go get it, go take it. Remember not give up and keep trying. You CAN do it.”
Floyd Cooper is the illustrator of over 100 books for children including the 2009 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Oates. Some of his titles include Jump!, Freedom School, Yes!, Mandela, A Beach Tale and so many more. During his career he has been honored by the American Library Association, the Parents’ Choice Foundation, Bank Street College of Education and others.
The school has Maria-Daphne Kazanis, the school library media specialist, to thank for Mr. Cooper’s visit. Ms. Kazanis invited Mr. Cooper to CTES and coordinated the event. Inquiries for school visits and assemblies should be emailed to [email protected]