In a world filled with uncertainty sometimes the best focus is to simply have ‘Hope’ and Denver has its own ambassadress for just that. Artist Koko Bayer has literally covered Denver with love and hope for over a decade featuring her grandfather Herbert Bayer’s art that she reimagines in photography and paper. If you have lived in or visited the metro area in the past few years then you have undoubtably seen Koko’s contemporary hearts and hands in all their forms as well as a few immersive designs and wandering eyes wheat-pasted around the city. Born in France and raised in Colorado, she currently lives and works in RiNo. When she is not putting in time as a logistics director for Babewalls she is heading #projectspreadhope, installing "Pink Lemonade Hope" and "Pride Hope" hearts all over Colorado. We were lucky to catch her in-between events and Denver Pride this month to chat about books, European art, the power of the sun and why ‘Hope’ is so important right now.
Koko on Art, Books, and Libraries
- What book as a kid influenced your imagination to pick up a crayon and begin making art?
Being a child in France offered me a different view on kids books and I was raised on a steady stream of Babar the Elephant and the Tales of Tintin. One offered the imagination of a colorful world ruled by elephants in outfits and the other, the adventures of a small boy and his dog.
- What book are you currently reading that influences you in either a creative way or a professional way?
I am reading a lot about typograph and graphic designs as of late but am currently reading Bauhaus Typography at 100 by Ellen Lupton, a look at the school’s typography and print design from its beginnings to its influence today. I also continually return to Herbert Bayer: Painter, Designer, Architect by Herbert Bayer for inspiration.
- What do you think is the most important resource that Libraries provide to you as an artist?
I am literally obsessed with the digital assets in the Western History department, pouring over those images for hours is such a kick start for ideas and an amazing trip down memory lane for architecture in this city. I also loved the access to documentaries with Kanopy during the pandemic.
- What is your current/favorite/most-used branch of the Denver Public Library?
My favorite would be the Central Branch because I use and adore the Western History department so much and the building is a marvel of Denver architecture so even walking through it is pleasant. However, I have to say I am excited to see the new Bob Ragland Art Park Branch grow and flourish in the RiNo neighborhood. I think it will be awesome to have a central hub for the art community in that area with a maker space and access to not only art books but also just inspiration through literature mixed with a social aspect of a safe meeting space.
- If you were offered a gigantic wall on the outside of a Library, what would your paint to display what a library means to you?
I think I would go with a huge vinyl Hope Heart because there is such a connection between ‘Hope’ and the function that a Library serves. They offer hope to people simply searching for information or inspiration, hope to immigrants looking to learn and prosper, hope to kids who might not come from income that offers the use of 3D printers or laptops and hope to artists who might be stuck and just need that one book or image to set them free on a project. I think Hope is in need across the planet right now and the Library is a beacon for that.
Ex Libris: Denver Artists is a series featuring local street artists, focusing on their connection to books and the importance of libraries to the artistic community. Series concept and interview by Sean Ryerson.