“It’s like the world stops, and I’m in the zone,” Luke Cocks said.

Luke, a senior at Holy Spirit Preparatory, recently was named a state winner in the All-State Art Symposium for his photography. The competition is noted for its selectiveness and is considered the biggest interscholastic art competition in the state, according to a press release from the school. Luke is only the second student at the school to win at the state level, according to Holy Spirit.

Luke Cocks.

Luke’s photography focuses on abandoned, urban-decaying environment, and his winning piece features qualities of isolation and brokenness. As

Luke has grown and developed his photography skills, his interest in these environments has been constant, for they were what drew him into this hobby originally.

Two years ago, Luke and his friends were exploring an abandoned train yard, and with one artistic picture on his phone, he was hooked, he said.

His family vacations and thirst for adventure also nourished his passion for photography as he explored countries such as Ireland, Mexico and South Africa.

Luke Cocks takes a picture of a mountain range in South Africa. (Special)

His portfolio is made up of a variety of animals, citizens of the countries and landscapes of the outdoors. Luke values photography above all other forms of art because it allows him to capture the beauty around him and take advantage of his adventures, he said. He focuses on isolated destinations and figures for his conceptual work, and he concentrates on South Africa for documentary work.

His eye for the beauty in decaying environments and loneliness caught the attention of the judges in the All-State Symposium. His winning piece in the competition came from his “Lone Figures” series. The shot was taken here in Atlanta, and “it explores the concept of isolation and a sense of loneliness,” Luke said. His fascination with these environments is coated with bits of philosophy as he views “urban decay as the epitome of a plan gone wrong,” similar to how life is an unpredictable adventure.

Luke Cocks’s award-winning photograph from his ‘Lone Figures’ series.

“As teenagers, we are still exploring who we are to become in this big, unknown and sometimes lost world. We, as teenagers, are just starting to figure out that life is about how you deal with the unexpected,” he said.

He’s supported by his family, who also have chosen artistic careers. Luke’s father is the creative director of his own production and design company, and his mother heads a jewelry design company.

Other figures in his life, such as his art teacher, Rockie Rondeau, are supportive of Luke’s talents with photography.

Rondeau is continuously inspired by his work, she said.

“His ‘Lone Figures’ series really encapsulates what it is like to be ‘coming of age,’ to be both on the cusp of finding out who you are, but also very lost and scared,” Rondeau said. “When I look at this series, it brings me back to my late teens and early 20s when I too was just starting to figure out who I was in the world. That’s a universal experience and I think Luke’s series really explores that concept in a unique way.”

Luke has also been published in the Photographer’s Forum Magazine and in Holy Spirit’s Art and Literary Magazine.

What’s Next?
Luke plans to go to college and focus on photography. His top choice is Savannah College of Art and Design. He has also applied to Columbia College Chicago and to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This article was written and reporter by Kaitlyn Garrett, a sophomore at The Lovett School.

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