Artist: Helen Werner Cox
Exhibition: Silent Screams
Media: Oil pastel, prints, carving, water based material, etc.
Gallery: Gastov West Gallery
Helen Werner Cox showcases on of her last solo shows at California State University, Long Beach as she is expected to graduate this semester. Cox is currently a graduate who has showcased her work multiple times throughout her career. Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, she moved to California as she thought fine arts for 30 years. The biggest inspiration for her exhibit roots from carousels as she was amazed & fascinated by the appearance and its function. Specifically, she gathered her ideas for her show by physically being in the presence of merry-go-rounds; especially the one located in Griffith Park. Aside from her work, Cox is interested in a plethora of things ranging from gardening California natives, reading fiction and mystery novels, and playing the mindless app: “Dots”. Her work is a reflection on mankind’s inability to advance in society as it’s portrayed through merry-go-rounds.
Cox showcases an array of artistic techniques throughout her exhibit ranging from oil pastel, prints, carvings, paint, and water colors. She shows enthusiasm & hard work considering the fact that many of her pieces takes a long time to process. For example, in one of her prized pieces, “Silent Screams”, Cox not only shows a hybrid of artistic styles, but also her energy and dedication into her passion. As a way to bring her ideas of carousels to life, she actually rode on the Griffith Park Merry-go-Round for 4 straight hours simply sketching the horses. She even went beyond by isolating herself in a warehouse of carousels in order to get inspiration for her show. For her more recent styles of art (monochromatic prints), she has a certain way of creating them. First, she sketches her work, then she obliterates it, and finally she redraws & modifies the obliterated canvas.
Cox’s underline metaphor for her exhibit shows how society is trapped in an endless spiral. Unlike Joseph Cambell, who thinks that people goes through a spiral in order to learn from their mistakes, her ideals are the antithesis of it. Cox’s work show how mankind has no progression as she portrays it through merry-go-rounds. Because carousels never moves anywhere but one direction, mankind’s inability to “move on” is a reflection of that idea. Cox believes that carousels is the perfect representation of her perspective as she channels both anxiety & creativity into her works. By looking into the horses’ facial expressions and the direction they’re going, they seem miserable in an endless spiral.
Cox’s pieces allows me to see how an simple attraction meant for children can actually represent something much more. In this case, carousels are used to portray society’s lack of progression. While carousels themselves are meant to bring happiness to young children, the fact that Cox is able to take that and twist it into her own perspective of mankind is the best part of her exhibit. The bleak message of her work- masked by the plethora of colors and friendly music is what really makes this exhibit memorable. For the most part, not only am I impressed with her message, but also her creativity, passion, and dedication put into her exhibit.