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Paul Cooley, 2017
16.5 x 24.5" Spray paint on wood with frame.
Part of the exhibition Paul Cooley: Hello My Friends
Paul Cooley is a fine artist from Queens, NY currently living and working in NYC. Paul has strong graffiti roots but now works primarily in mixed media to create his works. After battling drug addiction, homelessness, and a seemingly endless struggle to fill a spiritual void; Paul has resorted to creating every day. In an effort to express the need for simplicity in a complex results-driven society, Paul often incorporates poetry and simple metaphors into his art work. Some re-occurring themes are acceptance and enjoying the little things. Paul invites his viewers to be happy, right now.
Semantic satiation is a psychological phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener, who then perceives the speech as repeated meaningless sounds. But what if a word losing meaning was a good thing? What if it meant that you could give the word new meaning? Paul Cooley invites viewers to be be baffled by the word "Friend" in order to reflect on what it means to them. This body of work was inspired by a residency Paul completed with Circusaid this summer in Athens, Greece. The Circusaid team worked 6 days a week to bring circus workshops to children and adults in refugee camps, teaching life skills like teamwork and reciprocity to promote resilience and community cohesion. "I was inspired by all of it," said Paul, "But my richest experiences came from the friendships formed. Friendships that would not happen for me inside my comfort zone. The title and focus of the work was inspired by greetings from eager smiling refugee children: ' hello my friends '.