Don Cooper's training with Jim Herbert at the University of Georgia in the 1960s provided useful preparation for a career painting works that belong to what might be called the "fantastic realism" school of Southern art. Reflecting on his own work, Cooper speaks of his aesthetic quest to create "something I've never seen before—something described by its difference . . . the mystery of the space between reality and the imagination." Deeply influenced by Far East culture, Cooper’s most recent efforts include bindu paintings, a series of works featuring concentric circles emanating from a pinprick compositional center point.
Executed in the mid-1980s, The Adoration of Natural Wonders is one in a series of paintings that explore man's connection to nature, often depicting animals as stand-ins for humans and using Stone Mountain, Georgia, as a geographical backdrop. In this canvas, the iconic carving that commemorates Confederate military leaders on the face of that Southern mountain has been intentionally omitted, though its image is pictured standing atop the rise. In writing of the work, Cooper describes this juxtaposition as “a vision of things to come. Is the couple on the right aware that they are standing in a place sacred to the Creek-Muscogee tribes? What must the young African American child be thinking? Is she aware of her relationship to the horsemen in the sky?” Like the other works in this series, Cooper offers this painting as an “homage to the mountain as a geologic wonder, which has both a light and dark side.”
A former instructor at the University of West Georgia and the Atlanta College of Art, Cooper was honored by the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia's inaugural Working Artist Project prize. The Greenville County Museum of Art, Morris Museum of Art, and Lauren Rogers Museum of Art hold examples of Cooper’s work in their respective collections.