Brett Cook is an interdisciplinary artist and educator who uses storytelling to distill complex ideas and creative practices to transform outer and inner worlds of being. In his work with the Exploratorium's Arts and Public Programming teams, Cook will look at the ways an artist can interpret, remix, amplify, or challenge Exploratorium pedagogy.
Cook's installations feature painting, drawing, and photography to tell pluralistic stories with broad representation. His public projects typically involve community workshops that apply arts-integrated pedagogy and contemplative strategies—along with music, performance, and food—to create a fluid boundary between art making, daily life, and healing.
Teaching and public speaking are extensions of Cook’s social practice that involve communities in dialogue to generate experiences of reflection and insight. He was formerly a Visiting Professor in Community Arts/Social Practice and Diversity Studies at California College of the Arts and Director of Social Practice and Pedagogy at San Francisco State University Healthy Equity Institute. In 2009, he published Who Am I in This Picture: Amherst College Portraits with Wendy Ewald and Amherst College Press; and in 2015, Clouds in a Teacup with Thich Nhat Hanh and Parallax Press.
Cook has received numerous awards, including the Lehman Brady Visiting Professorship at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Richard Diebenkorn Teaching Fellowship at the San Francisco Art Institute. In recognition of his history of socially relevant, community-engaged projects, he was selected as cultural ambassador to Nigeria as part of the U.S. Department of State’s 2012 smARTpower initiative. His work is in private and public collections, including the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the Walker Art Center, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Harvard University. He is a senior fellow at YBCA and a trustee of A Blade of Grass, an arts nonprofit dedicated to social engagement.