By Vanessa Juarez
Ceca Cooper is a University of Sioux Falls art professor who has been inspiring and guiding creative students for seventeen years. Cooper started at USF as a half-time instructor and became full-time after just two years. Cooper was introduced to the University of Sioux Falls through a brief connection with another professor for those two years. Cooper says, “I came in sharing a contract with a professor who had been here a while, Brian Holland, and he decided he wanted to go half-time so he could spend more time in his studio painting.” Cooper was raising a family so it worked for the duration of the time before she ended up completely diving in. After seventeen years, Cooper says her favorite thing about USF is the environment. She finds the atmosphere to be unbelievably friendly, the students to be hard-working, and the faculty to be outstanding. USF is now a family affair for Cooper because her youngest son currently attends classes.
Besides teaching art, Cooper also helps out by acting as faculty advisor for Green Fingers Gardening Club and the USF Democrats, as well as supervising interim trips. This comes as no surprise since some of Cooper’s other passions include traveling and gardening. She enjoys and appreciates the diversity and culture both passions have to offer.
Focusing on Cooper’s main passion, she has been pursuing art as long as she can remember. When she was young, she was encouraged greatly by her family and would sell her paintings to neighbors. To this day, Cooper favors painting over any other artform, and she has been very successful in this medium. Cooper owes her success to her family, which contains generations of artists such as her mother and grandmother.
In addition to Art Education, Cooper contemplated simply being a famous artist in New York City. This dream would not quite work out as Cooper had another dream, to have a family of her own. She is now married with five kids and, thankfully, her family pushed her to the education portion of her degree, and she hasn’t looked back since.
While Cooper does consider herself to be living the dream by teaching her passion to her wonderful students, art wasn’t the only career Cooper debated. Before settling on Art Education, Cooper pondered the idea of Creative Writing, Medical Illustration, and Architecture.
Her decisions to teach and create were the right ones, because she has filled Sioux Falls’ venues with her artwork. Her pieces can be found in the Sanford Hospice, Sanford Hospital, the Edith Sanford Breast Center, Raven Industries, and the Sioux Falls Airport. Furthermore, Cooper has displays here at USF. In fact, her favorite piece just so happens to be her two paintings near the cafeteria, painted with inspiration from a poem. This form of art is one that she has dabbled in multiple times, linking back to an old flame she carries for poetry and creative writing.
Finally, while Cooper has had much success in her life, she still sets goals to further her career and success. She aims to have another solo exhibition at the Washington Pavilion within the next couple years, and to somehow indulge herself in gardening. She hopes to find a way to combine gardening and art as a later career after retirement for a peaceful and active lifestyle.