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Daniel Arsham for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company

POSTED ON: January 5, 2012

On December 28, 2011, The New York Times profiled Cooper Union School of Art alumn Daniel Arsham (A'03) and his work designing a set for the Mercu Cunningham Dance Comapany.

Daniel Arsham was barely aware of Merce Cunningham in 2005, when he got a call telling him that he was being considered as the set designer for the next work by Cunningham’s dance company. Mr. Arsham was 25 and just two years out of art school at the Cooper Union. “I knew him from my studies,” he said recently, “but as a passing name.” A few months later Mr. Arsham — who at first didn’t even know the concept of “stage right” — was at work on the set for Cunningham’s 2007 piece “eyeSpace.”

"I became a student again,” said Mr. Arsham, who watched rehearsals and went to see the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at the Joyce Theater several times in an effort to master a new medium.

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  • 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.