Artist: Helen Werner Cox
Exhibition: Silent Screams
Media: Oil, Pastel, Maker, Inks, Crayons, MonoPrints, Basswood Carving
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Max L. Gatov Gallery West
Instagram: No Instagram
About the Artist
For this week’s artist conversation, I met Helen Werner Cox. She is a graduate student who will be graduating this semester with a MFA in drawing and painting at Cal State Long Beach. Ms. Cox grew up in Ithaca, New York, then she moved to Massachusetts to study in fine arts. For about 30 years, she taught middle school and high school before she returned to school to earn her master degree. The first 13 years, she lived in Boston, then she decided to move to California because of the heavy snow and rain. When she came to California, she didn’t have any connections to get a job until she got offered to work at a middle school. She worked at a middle school for 17 years, but later became a librarian for 13 years in North Long Beach. Other than drawing and painting as her hobbies, she likes to garden and read fiction or mystery books.
Ms. Cox’s artworks were all different but had a relation with each piece because of the horses. Some of the horses were on carousels and the others were drawn differently with the colors and medias that were used.
The photo on the left is called, “Breakout or Outbreak-Which Will It Be?”. The carousel is spinning in circles as the horses are moving up and down made her create this scene of the horses as she sat in the carousel. She used oil and pastel for this artwork and it took her a long time because the artwork was so big. The artwork is so detailed with the technique of streaks that she used to make the horse’s colors stand out because of the dark blue background. The photo on the right is called, “Silent Screams”. In this artwork, she used large brushes to paint the color brown, then she began to draw each line creating the black background ; the design on top of the horses and the horses itself. She used multiple strokes with the brush to create the body shape of the horses and the background.
These artworks were different compared to the first two. The photo on the left was drawn using marker, inks, and crayons. The brown horse blends well with the aqua dark background that compliments each other well. Ms. Cox also splattered white paint and used white on the horse’s body to enhance the colors so it will not look as dark and create a simple effect. She also used the technique called mono prints to creative a pattern in her artwork. The photo on the right is called, “Unleashed”. She used Basswood carving to create this piece of artwork, the head is a young women with her chest included but the bottom part of her body is the horse’s body. The texture looks smooth but has the carving marks on the body. The work overall is detailed with the curls in the hair, the shape of the face and the exact bottom part of a horse.
Ms. Cox’s artwork was inspired by carousels and the horses. She points out that the horses on the carousel would go around constantly and it’s not getting anywhere. It is an endless cycle to her as she compares people’s lives to the carousel because people lives is an endless cycle. The horses going up and down on the carousel spectacle represents the mistakes that people go through on a daily basis. It’s a cycle of mistakes that people make and they keep redoing the same mistakes over again. The carousel also shows how it can’t go backwards like how we can’t go back in the day, it keeps going forward. The cycle keeps going until people eventually pass away. This feeling of people making the same mistakes in life made her express this in her artworks.
The artwork of the horses reminds me of the superstition that is in my buddhist culture. I use to have a painting of horses in my house, and it needed to be a certain amount of horses to have good luck. It was a painting of horses running one direction and it reminded me of Ms. Cox’s artwork. The horses in her painting are headed in one direction and it’s leading a path in life. Horses to me are very powerful and it does have a meaning to life even though people some wouldn’t think that. I never noticed how our lives is a cycle and people are making the same mistakes. It showed me how powerful Ms. Cox artwork is.