Artist of the Month April 2018
John Cocozza is our Artist of the Month for April 2018. John attends Project Ability’s Aspire programme and is a founding member of Art Trek. He has a fascination with Sci-Fi and subjects for his drawings are commonly inspired by Dr Who and Star Trek. We ask John more about his influences and processes of making.
When and how did your interest in art develop?
I have been interested in making art since I was about 13 or so. It was when I was in school. I started at Project Ability in 1992 and have been attending since then.
What influences your art?
I am influenced by celebrities and people on the television. I love Elvis and Mario Lanza. I also love architecture and visiting museums. I take the bus a lot and get inspired by seeing all the different people and places.
What process do you go through when you are creating a piece (starting with the initial idea)?
Usually ideas will pop into my head throughout the week and when I get to Project Ability I can ask Stewart, who works at the reception desk, to print out pictures for me to work from. I love to paint, make prints, use clay and make sculptures too. My arts tutor Valerie helps me with ideas and teaches me new techniques to try out. I love trying new things.
Which artists, if any, have you drawn inspiration from?
Picasso, Van Gogh, lots of the Old Masters. I really like visiting museums to look at the realistic portraits of people and animals.
Do you have a favourite piece (of your own work)? If so, which one and why?
My favourite piece I have made was a painting of Princess Eugenie. She came to visit Project Ability last year and I was happy to meet her. We had photographs of her during her visit and I painted a portrait of her from one of these. It is going to be in an exhibition in France this spring.
What do you hope the viewer gets from your work?
I hope the viewer will admire my work and appreciate my unique and creative style.
What has been the highlight of your artistic career?
Many years ago I did an art project with Project Ability about my family tree. I have Italian relatives, and I got to trace back my heritage through old photographs and birth certificates and other papers. It is believed that I am related to the singer Mario Lanza, whose real name is Alfredo Arnold Cocozza. It was an important project to me and very personal.
I also worked with artist Kevin Cantwell making some sculptures from old bits and pieces (upcycled sculpture) that all had a science fiction theme. This was a great project because I got to learn new ways to make sculpture and I got to work with science fiction, which I love. See the project here.
Tell us a bit more about Art Trek?
Art Trek does not exist anymore but it helped some of us artists at Project Ability learn to share our practice and skills with other people, which we still do today but it isn’t called Art Trek. “Art Trek Ltd was an innovative and exciting arts co-operative run by five disabled artists. John Cocozza, Steven Reilly, Cameron Morgan, Tommy Mason and Edward Henry. (All project Ability Aspire artists- all of these artists still work with us and are all still great friends)
They formed the business in 1997, in order to support each other in the development of their artistic careers."
The five artists used the co-operative as a vehicle to provide opportunities to develop and widen their individual artistic practice, take on public commissions and create workshop and teaching opportunities.
Through Art Trek we held workshops, at Project Ability and other places, and we got to learn to work together as a group and share our skills and exhibit world wide. It was really fun and I met lots of good friends with it. You can find more information about Art Trek on the internet. We could start it again one day if we want to.
Art Trek was officially a subsidiary of Project Ability. It came to a natural end in 2009 when Project Ability moved from Albion St to its current location at Trongate 103.
Has being a part of Outside In been beneficial for you? If so, how?
Yes, I am very happy to be on the Outside In website. It is a very good way for more people to see my work. It was really special the day they came to visit Project Ability and took photos of my work for the website.
What is next for you as an artist?
I am going to be in an exhibition in MarseilleFrance this spring. It is part of the le printemps de l' art contemporain. They will show a painting I made of Princess Eugenie, Richard Forsyth, and some other paintings and a print.
I always like to look forward to what new ideas I will have and what art I will make. I am always excited about making new art and I love coming to Project Ability.
To see more of John's artwork, visit his online gallery here.