William Arthur Cooper ( 1895- 1974 ) was born North Carolina. He was a self taught painter, a minister and teacher. Cooper specialized in portraits. He received his religious schooling at National Religious Training School ( now North Carolina Central University) in Durham .
Cooper believed that the burlesque, sensationalized images American Negros, then was so so prevalent, were both cause and effect of poor race relations. A program of arts education combining realistic portraiture, sympathetic biography, and honest conversation, he argued, could Negros and whites imagined one another and thus ultimately how they interacted.
During the Depression Cooper painted a series of African American worthies and common folk. Cooper subjects where his native Carolinians. He strove to capture broader truths about contemporary Negro life. By refusing to paint Negros and southerns as gross caricatures and by rendering his friends, and neighbors at repose, he achieves a realism that was radical and documentary.
He lectured and displayed his work through out the 1930's. In 1936 he published a book of essays and portraits, A Portrail of Negro Life. The book embodied his ideals how through arts education might help interracial relations. He also received recognition and acclaim from his portraiture and organized the North Carolina's first African American art exhibition . Through out his career he remained true to his calling as a minister. He was a Pastor at the Clinton Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church in Charlotte, NC.
( this contain exerts from Alexander Byrd in To Conserve A Legacy )