William M. Cochran, Muralist

William M. Cochran is a professional public artist and trompe l'oeil master. His painted illusions are usually disguised as part of the streetscape and reveal multiple layers of meaning when discovered. While viewers often find themselves touching the work to determine if it is real, it is the poetic levels of meaning operating within the work that most often touch the viewers.

He is a co-founder with his wife and partner Teresa of the non-profit organization Shared Vision: Public Art for Community Participation (www.sharedvision.org). Shared Vision exists to demonstrate the power of participatory public art to engage the public on a mass scale as collaborators in the work, building a sense of ownership and connection. The goal is to empower the community as a whole to become participants in urban, social, cultural and economic regeneration.

Built on paradox, his art is a fusion of art, architecture, community and history. Contemporary in flavor, it deeply rooted in historic memory. Although of museum quality, it is found most often in open public areas. The works are highly site-specific, but they speak to universal human themes. And though they represent a unique personal vision, their meaning is often the result of collaboration with the audience itself.

Mr. Cochran has been responsible for public art project budgets of up to one million dollars and is experienced in the technical aspects of permanent mural making. In August of 2000 in Augsburg, Germany, he became the first American artist to be trained in the century-old German mural technique of Purkristalat, a silicate paint system developed in the nineteenth century with no known limits to its lifespan in exterior applications. The first use of Purkristalat in America occurred later that year when Mr. Cochran was commissioned for a project at the Athenaeum in Philadelphia.

His six public murals in downtown Frederick near Washington D.C. draw tens of thousands of visitors to the city annually, and have appeared in hundreds of newspapers and magazines across the United States and in several foreign countries. They are frequently published here and abroad in educational materials for the classroom, including a new art history textbook, a physics textbook, and other publications.

In the historic district of Albany, New York, Mr. Cochran has designed several monumental works (www.insynergy.org) that will be integrated into the exterior architecture of a new 26-story mixed-use cybercenter. He worked closely with the project architect and many area organizations, as well as a number of nationally respected scholars, historians, artists and others to define and anchor this vision, called Insynergy. This project includes the following three works:

Mr. Cochran's artworks have won six national awards, including the Project of the Year award form the International Association for Public Participation (2001), the Project of the Year award from the American Public Works Association (1999) for Community Bridge, and the Award for Excellence from the American Glass Association for Volunteers (1990), a carved glass mural. Cochran was recently nominated for the Common Ground award in the arts by Search for Common Ground, an international organization that has used his work as a demonstration model in other countries.

Mr. Cochran travels and lectures widely. In recent years he was the keynote speaker at the Communiversity Conference in London, England and at the annual conference of the International Association for Public Participation in Vancouver, B.C., and has spoken at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington D.C. At Hood College, he was the inaugural speaker for the Social Visionary series in 1998 and returned in 2001.

Other Work by William Cochran

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