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Ronald and Jessie Cooper, folk artists


Ronald and Jessie Cooper shoe by Jessie Cooper

Ronald and Jessie Cooper, from Fleming County, make folk-art objects in the Appalachian Mountain tradition. Both are also self-taught painters.

Jessie Cooper The Coopers started making art after Ronald was in a serious automobile accident that left him disabled. Forced to live a changed life, he took up whittling animals in the Kentucky mountain craft style. Meanwhile, wife Jessie decided to try her skill as a sculptor. Because of the circumstances that brought them to this new career, Ronald Cooper describes the work he and Jessie create as a gift from God.

And in fact, Biblical scenes dominate the work of both Coopers. A frequent theme is the conflict between good and evil, though the two artists approach it a little differently. Ronald sometimes gets his ideas from nightmares he has had, while Jessie’s work is more literal. They both paint on old furniture and print messages on their pieces.

Morehead State University has examples of both Coopers’ work in its permanent collection. Ronald’s work is also housed in the American Visionary Art Museum.


Program 723

Husband-and-wife folk artists Ronald and Jessie Cooper from Fleming County, the Leeds Center for the Arts in Winchester, and music by Louisville singer/songwriter Janis Pruitt. (#723)

Program 737

Husband-and-wife folk artists Ronald and Jessie Cooper from Fleming County, the Leeds Center for the Arts in Winchester, and music by Louisville singer/songwriter Janis Pruitt. (#737)





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