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Stuart Copans graduated from Harvard College and Stanford Medical School, and completed his training in adult and child psychiatry at Dartmouth College. His first illustrated book was The Jewish Catalog, which was first published in 1973 and is still in print, along with two subsequent volumes, The Second Jewish Catalog and The Third Jewish Catalog, each of which contained over a hundred of his cartoons and illustrations.
He has also illustrated books for Oxford University Press (Who’s the Patient Here) and for St. Martin’s Press (How to Avoid the Evil Eye,) each of which was almost 50% cartoons and 50% text. Loosening the Grip, which is now in its 10th edition has sold over 500,000 copies and has over 200 of Copans’s cartoons. With each edition he adds 20 to 25 new cartoons and edits out some of the outdated ones. It is far and away the best-selling text for alcohol and substance abuse counselors and has been cited by Betty Ford, among others.
His papercutting began in 1977 and he has been a member of the Guild of American Papercutters since shortly after he began. His skill and interest in papercutting grew greatly in 1993 on a three month shipboard trip around the world, during which he studied the indigenous arts of several cultures and expanded his papercutting repertoire, illustrating Convergence, ed. Tela Zasloff, a book of writings and poetry about the voyage.
He has studied and taught at the annual meetings of the Guild of American Papercutters. He has worked primarily in black and white, and his focus has been on designs integrating different levels of symmetry, however his recent work has included color and some representational work as well. His primary focus in his representational work has been plants, particularly orchids because of their variations on a basic symmetrical pattern.
Over the past eleven years he has been working on a series of 1,296 papercuts including the word “Shalom” which means “peace” in Hebrew. Eighteen of these are displayed in the sanctuary of his Synagogue “Shir Heharim”(the Song of the Mountains) in Brattleboro, VT. After multiple experiences of hoping for successful negotiations between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians, he decided that some other approach to bringing peace was necessary and began his series of “Shalom” cuttings.
After completing his first series of 1,296 shaloms in 2012, he began work on a second series, most of which are smaller, multicolored and multilayered. Recently he has taught papercutting to Jewish, Moslem, and Christian Palestinian teenagers as a participant in the Jewish Peacebuilders camp in Guilford.
In addition to his papercuts, he is a bookplate artist, a miniature book artist, and a mailartist, focusing especially on collaborative books and first day covers.
In addition to his art, he continues to work as a child psychiatrist in Vermont and Massachusetts, and to teach in Dartmouth’s Child Psychiatry Training Program.