Artist: Helen Werner Cox
Exhibition: Silent Screams
Media: Oil paint, pastel, Water-based materials: crayons and color pencils
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
Instagram: no Instagram
For this week’s artist conversation, I got to meet Helen Werner Cox. She was born and raised in a small town outside of Ithaca in New York where she described herself as “a little country girl.” Cox is currently a graduate student here in California State University Long Beach. She is in the drawing and painting program here in CSULB. Cox’s art works explore the idea of how society is trapped in a carousel. She has this idea that society goes round and round making the same mistakes and going nowhere. Other than being under the stress of all these art pieces, Cox enjoys gardening, reading and doing puzzles. She has recently been addicted to the game “Dots.”
The formal qualities in Cox’s works varies from piece to piece. Most of her works are drawings and paintings, however, she does have a wood carving piece. In Cox’s drawings and paintings of these horses on carousels, there are a lot of colors to them. Some colors are blue, violet, green, brown, yellow, orange and more. Most of these drawings have a very geometric look to them. There are a lot of straight linear lines as well as very structured shapes. There is also a lot of shading in her drawings where she again uses lines and sometimes these curvy-looping lines to them. As for the wooden carving of the half human half horse sculpture, this piece looks very smooth. The saddle has a variety of colors such as green, blue, and red. The details of the horse’s legs and the human’s hair is very realistic because it shows the muscle-like textures on them.
The ideas Cox is trying to explore is that society is stuck. Just like how a carousel goes around in circles, she compares that idea to society. She believes that to live a healthy life, we go in a spiral and each time we spin we go higher and higher; however in her art works, this idea of society going in a circle and not moving up is what she is trying to convey. Technologically, yes society is going up, but emotionally, society is glued in a never ending circle. Cox channels her anxiety, fear, and frustration in through her art works, and that’s why it’s so powerful to her. She chose a horse because most carousels usually have only horses, but she also believes that horses are very powerful and a prominent figure to her work and ideas.
I thoroughly enjoyed Cox’s art pieces because it not only makes me aware of how society is, but by comparing it to a carousel is very intriguing to me. This resonates with me because sometimes I do feel like I’m doing the same thing every day. It feels like I’m going around in circles and nothing is changing. Every couple years, I get a new phone and I can agree with her that technologically, society is changing, but emotionally we are all stuck in the same place. All in all, I really enjoyed Cox’s art works, it was very interesting and I’m glad I got to observe it.