E. Diann Cook is an artist. She’s also a mom who is so very proud of her son who just graduated from Savannah School of Art. They are working on a joint project together and creating a new children’s book. Ms. Cook is a college professor and has been commissioned many times over to create art at a number of prominent locations in Connecticut.
How did you become interested in art?
On the first day of kindergarten, the teacher bribed me to stay by bringing out the finger paints. Once I got into them, I never noticed my mother had left. I was hooked!
Who inspired you most as a child and why?
The strong women in my family have provided my most vivid memories. My mother and grandmother were always there to support me even when my father could not. They made every event special. My mother always found a way to make mealtime a party, especially when the budget was tight. She could turn hot dogs and beans into a feast. I watched my grandmother strive to maintain her independence even after becoming a double amputee. They showed my siblings and me how to view life’s circumstances as a challenge for success.
You’ve done a lot of work with teens and children. Is that fulfilling for you? Would you like to do more of that work in the future?
I am the oldest of six and I have always had the responsibility of helping with a child’s development. I began working with youth while I was still young. It’s always been a pleasure seeing others reach their goals. Writing children’s books that focus on life lessons is a wonderful way for me to reach a larger youth population.
Tell people why art is so crucial for children.
The Arts help us to see each other’s creativity which is beneficial for understanding some of our similarities and our differences. We all need a firm foundation to help us grow strong, so the perfect time to introduce the skills we need, and to nurture creativity is during childhood. The early years are the ones that usually solidify our development.
What was the biggest obstacle you ever faced in your art life or your life and general and how did you overcome it?
I believe that we all have gifts and talents and your passion for them helps you develop them into productive skills to support you through life. There have been times when others have misused my skills for their own selfish needs. I will always allow my gifts to help others. I will also always be mindful that no good deed goes unpunished as well as, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice….
You’ve worked with a number of nonprofits. What is that experience like and are they beneficial to the community in terms of setting up art programs?
Every community needs non profits for many reasons; youth development, housing, energy assistance, etc. Since they are mostly supported by government, private donors, and various grants, there is the possibility that the non profits find themselves having to produce quantity over quality. I would rather see 10 lasting successes out of 200 than 150 short term hopefuls. Quality counts.