Artist: Helen Werner Cox
Exhibition: Silent Screams
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
About the Artist
Helen Werner Cox is a graduate student at CSULB who is pursing a master’s degree in Fine Arts. She grew up in Ithaca, New York, and then she went to school at BU School of Fine Arts. She then stayed in Boston for 16 years before moving to California. In California she became an art teacher for middle school students. Helen explained that she actually fell in love with teaching middle school students; she laughed when she said this because most people hate teaching middle school students. Besides art, Helen enjoys gardening and reading. She loves to read fiction and mystery novels.
Helen’s work is inspired by carousel horses and each of her paintings its quite intriguing. She uses pastels, ink, charcoal, crayons, and even color pencils to create her beautiful pieces of art. Helen uses shading to make her pictures of the horses seem realistic. Most of her pieces are in black and white or they are sketches. Although they are in black and white, they still have this very lively quality. There are a few pieces in color and they too looked very real as well. For her pastel paintings, the paintings look as though they are a bunch of little tick marks.
Helen’s exhibition is called Silent Screams, and is centered around the idea that antique carousel is a visual metaphor of society. Antique carousels have been around for a while and were actually created for adults not children. Helen explains, “the paradox inherent in a merry-go-round, as the horses go ever forward and never get anywhere, symbolizes the circles we spin, both individually and collectively”. She says that only a few are fortunate to gain momentum to break out of an endless circle and form a spiral that takes them upward, which keeps with the mythic structure. Helen believes the horse is instrumental in human development, such as farming, transportation, and war. She explains that today the horse has become obsolete and we now find ourselves on the brink of extinction. Helen expresses each image with lights and darks, warms and cools, and an arrangement of major shapes within a composition. She takes inspiration from Goya and Paula Rego because their pieces each contribute components of power and emotional expression.
Synthesis / My Experience
I found Helen Werner Cox’s art to be absolutely interesting. First looking at her artwork, I thought it looked beautiful. The horses seemed to be almost jumping off the page. The paintings were also so large, so it amazed me that she did that much work. The colors of the paintings were also amazing as well. Some were simple, black and white, while others had a variety of colors that made the paintings look lively. I have always loved carousels, especially as a child. They were so interesting to me because the horses all have a different identities but seem the same from far away. My mother also used to collect carousel horse figurines, so I am used to seeing them. After hearing what she believed, antique carousel are a metaphor for life, changed my view on carousels. I just thought they were beautiful before, but her analysis made me rethink what a carousel could stand for.