Chip Cooper, a well-known photographer and faculty member in the College, will participate in the Miami Book Fair this month alongside Brian Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer noted for photographing celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Sara Jessica Parker, George Clooney, and many more.
Cooper will be promoting his book La Habana Vieja/Old Havana, which chronicles his collaboration with Cuban photographer Néstor Martí as part of the Alabama Cuba Initiative. The book, which was produced by the University of Alabama Press, presents 200 pages of photographs of the people and places of Havana. The two photographers have been collaborating since 2008 to produce a body of photographs that capture the spirit of the city and its people during a pivotal time in Cuba’s development.
Their project originated with a request from Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler, Havana’s historian and the director of the Old Havana restoration project. During a recent trip to Cuba, Cooper and Dr. Robert Olin, dean of the College, presented a copy of the book to Spengler at the University of San Gerónimo.
Inspired by the work of 20th century American photographer Walker Evans, Cooper and Martí photographed the city side by side, each of them highlighting the spirit of change and renewal underlying the restoration of Havana.
The work has received positive reviews from Daniel Menaker, former editor of The New Yorker and former executive editor in chief of Random House: “Cooper and Marti, united in and inspired by their admiration for the great American photographer Walker Evans are wonderfully complementary masters of their art. Their photographs—vibrant, respectful, witty, and sometimes truly epic in their vision, along with the accompanying texts—create a kind of imagistic dialogue. The result is a moving panorama of past and present, generality and specificity, the stillness of stone, the drama of the sea, the vividness of the human presence and present in a place saturated by the past. It’s a really spectacularly beautiful and sophisticated book.”
Cooper was photography director in UA’s Office of University Relations for 33 years before his current appointment as a faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences and artist-in-residence in the Honors College. He has published several books, including: Hunting: The Southern Tradition, Alabama Memories, Silent in the Land, Common Threads: Photographs and Stories from the South, Crimson: The University Of Alabama, and Charlie Lucas: The Tin Man. Cooper won an award of excellence for his book Silent in the Land from Communication Arts Magazine and is a past recipient of an Artist Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.