William Y. Cooper  l  Visual Artist   (1934-2016)

Prominent and prolific Buffalo visual artist

William Y. Cooper – painter, print maker,

muralist and art educator extraordinaire –

made his transition to a perpetually sunlit art

studio on February 26, 2016 following a long illness. 


Born February 21, 1934 in Birmingham, Alabama, Mr. Cooper began drawing at

age four.  He studied for two years at Alabama State College before being drafted into the army, where he spent 18 months writing and illustrating training brochures for the U.S. Army Command in Europe.  After discharge he returned to school on

the G.I. Bill, earning a BFA degree from the University at Buffalo.  


Mr. Cooper taught art for 12 years in Buffalo Public School system, was a regular instructor in the Education Department at Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and always taught and mentored young children out of his studio.  For many years, he also owned and operated an African art import business, traveling to and from West Africa to purchase merchandise.  Self-defined as an “Afrocentric artist,” he maintained that his affiliation with Africa and study of African art and history

was a major influence in rendering his own art.


After closing his shop in 1995 for health reasons, he became an anchor of

Buffalo Arts Studio and one of its best beloved resident artists.


Mr. Cooper held his first one-man exhibit in 1969 at the African American Cultural Center, and through the years exhibited regularly throughout Buffalo and New York State, as well as in Alabama, Georgia, Washington DC and Ghana. 


Like the artist himself, his intricate canvases are booming with movement and light, at once brilliant and brooding with color and intricate, meditative form. His work has been widely commissioned and the impetus for public art and community education projects.  Among the many sites of Cooper's work in Buffalo, his mural graces the walls of the historic Colored Musicians Club Museum in the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor.  BROWSE GALLERY>