About Athena

Photo of Athena Cooper seated outdoors in her power wheelchair

Born with the rare genetic disorder, Osteogenesis Imperfecta (aka ‘brittle bone disease’), and a wheelchair-user since the age of six, the images Athena creates appear as though they have been passed through her own glass-like nature to become windows into how she sees the world.

She finds the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany particularly inspiring and has spent a number of years doing studies of his glass work with the aim of learning how to replicate the look of stained glass in paint. One of Tiffany’s great innovations was this notion of creating beauty from imperfection. Prior to his work, perfect glass was supposed to be clear, pure and even in tone. Tiffany-style stained glass however is a riot of colours and textures that capture, manipulate and shatter the light coming through it in dozens of different ways.

Through paint Athena seeks to similarly emulate that beautiful imperfection and control the light as it appears to shine through from behind the painting. Many of her paintings begin as snapshots from around her neighbourhood captured on her phone. These fleeting moments are seemingly every day and yet conjure a sense of awe. It is that first light of dawn on a frosty morning passing through barren branches that cast long fingers of shadow. It is a shaft of light illuminating a single poppy in a roadside garden and then gone minutes later. For each of these blink-or-you’ll-miss-it moments, Athena seeks to capture the beauty she bore witness to and pass on that vision in her paintings.


Ten Squared 2021
Group exhibition presented by the Federation of Canadian Artists, December 13-23, 2021 at the Federation Gallery, Vancouver, BC

What Disability?!?
Group exhibition in celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities presented by the Outsiders and Others Gallery, December 3-19, 2021, Vancouver, BC

HOPE Exhibition
Virtual exhibition presented by the Roaring Artist Gallery, September 1 – October 31, 2021

Included in the online portion of the exhibition presented by the Federation of Canadian Artists, March 15 - 28, 2021, Vancouver, BC

All the Lights
Virtual exhibition presented by the treat gallery, February 10 – March 31, 2021, New York, NY

Love Letter to Calgary
Virtual exhibition presented by the Pumphouse Theatre, October 13 – December 31, 2020, Calgary, AB

MASKED: Self Portraits of a Pandemic
Virtual exhibition presented by The Ikouii Creative, August 1 – October 6, 2020, Atlanta, GA

Emerging Artist Exhibit
Virtual exhibition presented by the Pumphouse Theatre in association with the IGNITE! Emerging Artist Festival, June 3 – August 31, 2020, Calgary, AB

Group exhibit of disability identified artists from across Alberta, January 16 - March 21, 2020 at Pumphouse Theatre, Calgary, AB

Find Your Heart(h)
Solo exhibition of paintings and digital art August 24 – September 21, 2019 at cSPACE King Edward, Calgary, AB

“Can You See Us Vancouver?” art exhibition
Presented by Kickstart Disability Art & Culture November 6 – December 1, 2017 at the Pendulum Gallery, Vancouver, BC
CBC News: Can You See Us Vancouver? Art exhibition presented for people using wheelchairs — interview with Yuri Arajs (curator) and Athena Cooper

International Artist Day Anonymous Art Show
Presented by 100 Braid Street Studios October 27-29, 2017 at the 100 Braid Street Studios, New Westminster, BC


2021 Active Status Member - Federation of Canadian Artists