University Museums

Title: Personal Growth
Name: Painting
Date: 2016
Medium: Mixed media on canvas
Dimensions: 48 × 60 in. (121.9 × 152.4 cm)
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Acquisition to the Art on Campus Collection by Dsn S 145x, Diversity in Art, Spring 2016. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University
Object Number: U2016.490
More Information
Class Statement:
As a class, we felt that Paul Cooley’s painting Personal Growth best described and represented the importance of diversity and inclusion at Iowa State University. We chose Cooley because we felt that his work illustrates his life and story as an emerging artist. The painting, chosen democratically, provides a multitude of interpretations and themes that are crucial to understanding the importance of identity and diversity. It is a catalyst for provoking thought and reflecting on one’s personal journey throughout their time here at Iowa State.

Looking at this painting, it is evident how growth is an organic process, which anyone can relate to. To be alive is to grow, and this overarching theme of life is brought to the forefront at Iowa State University where personal growth and self-progress are explicit goals of the students who attend it. It is our belief that everyone seeks personal growth through achieving the goals set before us and by pursuing the happiness we desire. These motives unite all people regardless of race, gender, religion, or any of the things that may divide us.

Interpretation of Personal Growth by the artist:
This painting represents what I strive for personally in today's society; Personal Growth. The word "more" floating among the chaos, protruding from the flower pot, shows a side of the society we live in today. People want "MORE". More money, more power, more stuff, more likes, more followers, more instant, more now; more, more, more. We live in a chaotic world. A world where everyone wants more, and we want it now. The solution on the other side of the coin is what I aim to translate in this painting. That "MORE" is not what we need. Personal growth is what we need; considering where society is today we need "MORE" personal growth. Growth as individuals, and ultimately as a collective, as a society.

Artist Statement:
Paul Cooley is a fine artist from Queens, NY. After battling drug addiction, homelessness, and a seemingly endless struggle to fill a spiritual void; Paul has resorted to creating every day. In an effort to express the need for simplicity in a complex results-driven society, Paul incorporates poetry into his art work. What may seem like childishly simple concepts, are poems focused on acceptance and enjoying the little things. Paul invites his viewers to be happy, right now.