Muralist communicates positivity

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Students at two Socorro schools will be seeing positive messages every single day, thanks to an artist from Boston.

John Larson — El Defensor Chieftain: Alex Cook puts the final touches on a mural at Parkview Elementary on Friday, March 28.

Over the past two weeks, Alex Cook has been busy painting murals: one at Parkview Elementary and the other at Socorro High School. Cook’s messages – “You Are Loved” and “You Are Beautiful” – cover a wall of Parkview’s lunchroom and a main entrance at Socorro High, respectively.

John Larson — El Defensor Chieftain: Socorro High School art students Raven Taylor and Arnette Quinn (far right) study muralist Alex Cook’s technique.

The project began with an idea from Lily Ward, Cook’s sister, who lives in Socorro and whose children attend Parkview and Socorro High.

After clearing it with school officials, Ward contacted her brother in Boston.

Jon Rejent — El Defensor Chieftain: Boston artist Alex Cook spent the last few weeks painting murals depciting positive messages at Parkview Elementary and Socorro HIgh.

“Alex was excited at the idea. (He) came here and started the Parkview mural last week,” Ward said. Both slogans were Ward’s idea.

The purpose of this project, Cook said, is to “be engaging in the battle against the thoughts that bring people down. The two murals represent a message allows people to feel good about themselves.”

An established artist and muralist, Cook prefers to promote positive feelings and themes in most of his work. He said he knew he wanted to be artist early on and earned a degree in art from the University of Massachusetts.

“When I was in college, it was very clear that I wanted to be an artist, but didn’t have any idea what that meant,” he said. “I felt very afraid of not only how I was going to make a living, but how I was going to make these images that I love and not waste them.”

He said he remembered going to many galleries that were more or less empty.

“It seemed like nobody went there. Nobody was seeing paintings,” Cook said. “I realized that if you can get your work up on a wall then people will see it. And when people see it, then you have a connection with them.”

Cook said he realized that his murals could possibly enhance peoples’ mood.

“I see all around me people, and myself, who at times really struggle to know their value,” he said. “And I know that people do better work, they contribute more, they have happier lives, they’re better in every way when they feel good about themselves.”

Cook said he has done a lot of work with students at schools and churches.

In regards to the two murals he created in Socorro, he said he is aware of “the power that art can have to change how you feel – especially when you see it on a daily basis.”

He said art has a way of creeping into people’s thoughts.

Aside from creating his murals and paintings, Cook is also a Christian folk singer, and schedules tours around the country synchronizing concerts at churches with his commissions for public art.

His largest mural is 160 feet long and 20 feet high, and is on a wall in Boston.