As a member of the 2023 class of Thomas J. Watson Fellows, a Hendrix College senior will travel abroad to study how public art's role differs across cultures.
Adaja Cooper, a senior studio art major and business minor from Little Rock, will spend a year in England, Northern Ireland, Senegal, Mexico and Italy for her project, "Power, Preservation and Activism in Art," according to the college. Cooper, a national award-winning, published artist, has exhibited her work in multiple galleries, including the Hearne Fine Art Gallery, Mosaic Templars Cultural Museum, and The Baum Gallery.
The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship is a one-year grant for "purposeful, independent exploration outside the United States, awarded to graduating seniors nominated by one of 41 partner institutions," and Cooper is the 40th Hendrix student to receive this honor -- the sixth in the past five years -- according to the college. Cooper works for the Windgate Museum of Art at Hendrix, designing and installing exhibitions, and she serves as president of both the Art Club and the Hendrix chapter of the NAACP.
"Adaja's personal story is compelling, and her art is captivating," Britt Anne Murphy, Hendrix's liaison to the Watson Foundation, stated in a news release from the college. "Adaja is an extraordinary artist, and a Watson will allow her to explore her craft in global settings and provide a connection to others who have been motivated by activism to make public art."
"Working alongside artists and arts organizations, I will create, document, analyze, and experience the responses to this vital art form," Cooper wrote in her project description, according to the college. "My experiences at Hendrix have deepened my love for art and my passion for activism, and I am excited to share those passions abroad during my Watson year."