Outreach Program Blog

3-D Design

January 26, 2017

Check out some examples of the work our students have done in the past in our 3D design class. Apply to our class this Spring! Learn more here


Letterpress Studio and the Winter Program 2017

December 05, 2016

The Outreach Winter Program is an interdisciplinary class where students collaborate in the construction of what, at different times, has become an artist book of prints, a zine, or animated shorts. While the subject and format of the projects change from year to year, the common denominator is the printing presses at Cooper Union’s Letterpress Studio. This facility is equipped with four SP15 (Simple Precision) Vandercook presses that easily allow for large edition printing, and that combine rich ink saturation and a tactile quality on the paper. 

Students work in small groups to collaborate on a concept and visualization. This is an opportunity to work towards a common goal, opening the single students point of view to include that of others, which proves to be a challenge for an otherwise very individual practice of self-expression. It takes a great effort to interpret and respond to the infinitely varied and complex issues that arise from our daily encounters with nature, with the city, and its inhabitants. What is at stake is not for students to simply make beautiful works of art, but to learn to point those visual skills in a clear direction. 

The 2017 Winter Program will travel to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to look at the underlying issues that occur in its green house conservatory. In these temperature-controlled environments, we will question notions around collecting, nomenclature, and the picturesque. In an attempt to replicate nature, the garden organizes what is seen and how it is seen, for the consumption of its visitors.  As we capture an already displaced flora with a camera, we post it online, enlarge it, crop it, give it a hash tag, and so on. Our task will be to take a step away from this chain of motivations, to objectively reclaim our place in it through drawing, photography and writing. Students will use the format of an accordion book to create a visual experience layered by relief printing, photography and writing. In turn, everyone will leave with a limited edition artist book encompassing their own work and that of their peers. 

Written by Pablo Diaz, who will be teaching letterpress. Amy Buckley will be the photography instructor, and Alex Velozo will poetry and drawing. We thank our special partnership with Ava Smile’s for making the poetry component possible.


Making Art When I Didn’t Know It

September 15, 2016

Image by Kyle Richardson

Image by Kyle Richardson

In 4th grade my best friend Marta and I loved making up games together. She lived around the block from me and we would walk home together every day after school. As we walked home, we would jump from shadow to shadow, trying to catch a renegade leaf that kept being blown further away by the wind. If we stepped in the sunlight we would be ‘dead’ because it was ‘lava.’ This game was called Leaf Hunter.

We also played a who-dun-it game called something like “Psycho Pool Barbie” where we filled up the only bathtub in my railroad apartment with water, turning it into a “pool.” We would turn off the lights, and when we turned them back on, one of our characters be dead (marked by fake blood in the tub and all over the bathroom), despite my grandmas wishes.

My actual Barbie dolls were always decrepit, had weird hair-cuts, were naked and limbless because we’d run them ragged. We made home made clothes for them and also used VHS tape boxes as homes for the dolls and we used marbles as currency.

Marta and I got pet hermit crabs, and we made obstacle courses out of Scrabble pieces for them to climb on.

I’d always been interested in art, so for high school I went to LaGuardia. In terms of Art History, the closest we had come to covering contemporary art was Rococo, which is probably better than most public schools. Even so, Art classes in public school had a way of putting you to sleep and relying too much on History.

The Cooper Union Outreach program was the first art program I was in that introduced me to the idea of Conceptual art, or any kind of art past 1930. Hearing these ideas at the Outreach Program validated that I had been thinking conceptually for a long time. I wouldn’t have realized that art was something worth pursuing without Outreach. My family didn’t have money to put me in an extra curricular art class, and especially if it was something where they were unsure if it’d be beneficial to my future.

Martha Friedman, my freshman 3DD teacher at Cooper Union told us she believed that as an artist you’re always working towards the same idea. Every time you make a new piece, you get closer to that idea. I believe this too; but it starts way before you are conscious of what you’re doing.

Learning about conceptual art showed me that all along, through creative play, we'd been making work.

Kyle Richardson


Economies of Visibility: Reflecting on Contemporary Art Issues

January 20, 2016

Mika Rottenberg’s 'Tropical Breeze' (2004)

Mika Rottenberg’s 'Tropical Breeze' (2004)

I’ve been a student at The Cooper Union School of Art since 2012, and this past fall was my first semester as a teacher assistant in the Outreach Pre-College Program. I TA’d the critical thinking and creative writing class, Contemporary Art Issues, that accompanies the program’s intensive portfolio preparation curriculum. In this class the students develop an ability to discuss art with confidence.

What's really exciting about being a T.A. for the Contemporary Art Issues class is that we not only work alongside the professors but we’re also invited to propose curricula and lead the class discussions. Our team of four would meet weekly to reflect and develop that Saturday’s class. By making sure the curriculum was open and in conversation we were able to take into account the student's interests and which methods of reflection suited the group best.

This collaborative approach to teaching critical thinking received my proposed curriculum with open arms, and it was so exciting to see it grow in conversations and responses. We based each class around an artwork that addressed issues of performing labor and producing labor. We also considered the conflictive relationship towards authorship and who gets to claim it when it comes to identity.

We began by looking at Mika Rottenberg’s imaginative supply chain landscapes and considered the relationship its workers had to the workers in the films of the Lumiere brothers. We then reflected on the factories that build the smartphones we carry around in our pockets every day, through the poetry of Xu Lizhi, in relation to the factories producing the internet’s software and content through the work of Andrew Norman Wilson. Considering our role as front end users of the Internet, we read Laurel Ptak’s Wages for Facebook manifesto and had riveting discussions about content ownership within web 2.0 corporate environments like Facebook. Through the poetry and digital images of Juliana Huxtable we opened up a conversation about the ways in which visibility is a primary capital within emerging social markets. Her involvement in New York City’s art world and nightlife, and her unabashed use of her Internet presence as part and parcel of her artistic practice, framed a final writing assignment in which we asked the students to imagine a city. This led to incredible musings on an urban and social landscape that would treat us with respect and celebrate our differences.

The focus of the class is to grow confidence in dialoguing about artworks and thinking critically about them. It was truly inspiring to witness the growth our students had and the exciting discussions they produced! Being in the position of a TA in the Outreach program has shown me how much my own critical thinking around art practices has grown at Cooper and how the community we have at the school offers an intense and invigorating space for sharing ideas.

Emilio Martínez


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.