Cooper Joél Penn

Minds far afield.


These projects came from a place of silence. Having been trained in the art of light manipulation, I focus on the creation of imagery through curated light. The medium has given me the ability to create work that voices my opinions and beliefs which can be shared with others.


Culture Goals


Sometimes in life you find yourself in the perfect place, at the right time, with the best work. Then everything comes together in a way you did not expect. While I had created work for a local show on my island of St. John, the gallery owner was invited to present work from the Virgin Islands in a Cuban exhibition. I was asked to show my pieces, and suddenly I found myself visiting this inspiring country and surrounded by people from all over the Caribbean Diaspora. The project comments on my own colonial and conflicted culture, incorporating a new generation of thinkers: How can we as young Virgin Islanders reinvigorate our culture? How do we learn, internalize, and choose to depict it in our own lives?


Idols of the Tribe

This project was selected and shown in the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport Exhibit held by the Atlanta Photography Group in 2015. I was very fortunate to find my own tribe very early in life. I maintain those relationships today, and know that should any- thing happen to me, the people closest to me would be taken care of. Tribe is beyond blood. As an Black American, most of our culture has been systematically beaten out of us during the centuries of slavery. While we search for our own traditions and culture also reconnecting with our roots, we gravitate towards individuals of like mind and interests. We find our tribe. We find those we can count on, trust, and confide in.



Japanese culture has been a big source of inspiration for my work and aesthetic. It began with Nausica: The Valley of Wind, which I found on the shelves at my movie store and was forever changed by the Anime genre and Miyazaki's penchant for telling beautifully woven stories about the friction between nature and man.

In Daimyo, I chose to focus on the idea of the Samurai as a fashion icon. My stylist was allowed to create looks that layered items much the same way a warrior would gear up for a battle. The stark lighting and stoic stances all played a part in depicting a very serious and almost ritual like presence of the figure.


Tell me your story.