A Photographic Memory


Art is a world within its own universe. Its the ability to create the expressions and perpetuity of entities that surround the artist.

In the second grade Allen Cooks like all artists had a vivid imagination. His young mind could grasp the image and store it.

“An artist has to have a sense of a photographic memory,” Cooks said. “I believe this is the way God intended it to be. I can look at something and capture it then look away and still be able to put it on paper.”

A photographic memory can sometimes be helpful while going through school as well. “Having this ability I could study for a test and do very well on it, because all I had to do was capture and embrace it, then I had it,” Cooks said.

While attending Elementary school in north Mississippi Cooks would sometimes keep from getting in trouble because he would draw in class. “While I sat in class I would always try not to get caught by the teacher,” Cooks said.

When Cooks was in the seventh and eighth grade he had a teacher by the name of Charles Langston. “He taught my drawing class,” Cooks said.

“He would give us a contest, this contest required us to write a poem. So, I wrote a poem but I also drew a picture to go along with it.

There were two other boys in that class that painted really well and their names were Matthew and Jerry Glasper.”

Cooks stated that these two boys made the contest a true competition.

As time went by Cooks graduated and decided he wanted to further his education. He decided to attend the Mississippi Delta Junior College in Commercial Art Technology.

After a year at MDJC he got married and returned home to Scott County.

In 1987 he wanted to go back to school so he signed up at East Central Community College and graduated with a degree in Art.

Cooks decided to continue his education and went to Jackson State University. This decision lead him back to ECCC. In 1991 he graduated EC again in business administration.

In 1995 Cooks felt on his heart that God wanted him to start preaching. “I had my first trial sermon at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church,” Cooks said.  He also stated that he had seen the feet of Jesus and knew deep in his soul that he had a purpose in this world.

While continuing to preach and having God on his side Cooks started another job and still had the ambition to continue school.

“I got a management job at Sara Lee after graduating EC,” Cooks said. “However I still had in my heart to pursue art. So I went back to JSU and finished in 2011 with a degree, Professional in Disciplinary Studies with emphasis in Art and Business.”

Now, Cooks preaches at Pilgrim Rest MB Church and works at Scott Central as an in school suspension instructor.

“I have often wondered why I instruct the ISS class. But, I know that for some students this is a gateway,” Cooks said. “I have the opportunity to help these young people who may struggle with difficulties in their life.”

In July of last year Cooks started his journey in the world of pencil sketching. “Being able to blend in shade to give it life is an amazing thing,” he said.

Pencil sketching is not an easy task, Cook explains, “you have to find the right pencil. There are certain pencils that are light and dark, some have a soft tip and others - a hard tip.”

He also stated that one must have steady hands. “I have a gift from God, he keeps my hands steady, my hands never shake,” he said.  Cooks also said that he draws by feeling.

“Drawing takes me out of this world into another world,” he said. “I look at all my drawings and know that I am making God happy.”

Cooks concluded, “while I was at EC Mr. Bruce Guraedy was one of my favorite teachers. I went to him one day and asked what grade did he give me. He replied back to me; that he has never given a student a grade that they did not earn. He looked at me and told me that I earned an “A”.

I will never forget one thing that he mentioned to me. I have carried this throughout my life. He looked up at me with a firm look on his face and told me that it doesn’t matter where I go in life.

“Because no matter how bad you would like to be the best — never try to be the best. If you’re the best that God has then that’s a problem, because that only means, that we have set the bar of standards low for ourselves; because God has no limitations.”

Cooks art is on display at the Forest Library throught March 5th.