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
Helen Werner Cox was a delight to speak with for this weeks artist conversation. She is a student of the CSULB Fine Arts Program of Drawing and Painting where she is currently working towards a Masters Degree. Cox left her home in Ithaca, New York at age 18 to study fine arts in Massachusetts. For 30 years she taught high school and middle school art. Teaching led her to going for a masters where she spent 13 years in Boston before having enough snow and rain. She landed a middle school teaching job upon coming to California where she spent 17 years doing so, then another 13 years as a librarian in North Long Beach. She carries a notebook with her wherever she goes in case an idea crosses her mind, she can quickly jot down or sketch her idea for later referencing. Next to drawing and painting Cox enjoys gardening and fictional books
When asked how Cox would describe the lines in her paintings she said “structure and energy”. In ‘The a Blue Mule’, Cox uses cooler, darker colors in the foreground, and the warmer colors are used to paint the animals coming forward. The differentiation of warm and cool colors evokes the feeling of warm lighting, and gives dimension to the painting. Her painting ‘Silent Screams’ shares more warm colors, and her strokes in the foreground create movement and energy.
Cox exhibit was centered around the visual depiction of carousel horses, but the fun loved image held a deeper context. The horses’ expressions in Cox paintings were fearful, and the emotions felt dark. Cox message was to illustrate how society is stuck on a track, going in circles, spiraling out of control. Cox shared that many who are a fan of carousels do not like her art because they feel the work is altering the image of horse carousels from fun to dark.
Of all the artists, Cox has been my favorite conversation. She was such a fri fly conversation and I absolutely enjoyed every piece in her exhibit. I have a personal connection with carousels as my grandmother adores them, so we had carousel horses all over our home. I enjoy metaphors that reflect images of societal behavior because typically, as humans, we don’t recognize when we are stuck in a loop or when we repeat habits; and art is a powerful motivator to get people to reflect or react. There’s something about art that captures us and evokes mindfulness.