Wk 10 – Artist Conversation – Helen Werner Cox


Artist: Helen Werner Cox
Exhibition: Silent Screams
Media: Pastels, oil paint, permanent marker, water paint
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
Website: www.HelenWernerCox.com
Instagram: None.

Helen Werner Cox is a graduate student working toward her MFA  in the drawing and painting in the figurative track program here at CSULB. On her own time she loves to low water garden and read. In fact, she was a librarian for seventeen years. Besides that though, she tought art for thirty years in many different settings such as in high risk communities in community centers as well as middle and high schools. She originally went to college at Boston University as a painting major but then changed to art education. She was born in New York and moved around a lot on the east coast but would say that she really grew up around Ithica, New York and she says she decided to move here to California because she was tired of all the rain and snow. It really hit her hard when she moved here and she wasn’t quite so popular anymore and she had to start all over. She did get her footing back though and she ended up retiring at fifty-five.

Helen’s work has very active lines. This basically means that you can really see the motion in it and that makes her work pop quite a bit because it seems as if it’s about to go back into motion. Another thing that helps with that is that she blurs some things very well in order to help enhance the motion and overall rawness to the work. Her pieces often feel like they’re the straight work of first time ideas flowing onto paper and I love that about them. That she can make a very professional piece of work have the passion of a first time idea.

When it comes to Helen’s work, it’s a very simple but complicated idea. It’s insinuating the idea of life. One day Helen just woke up with the image of an antique carousel with adults with problems riding on the horses and that’s where this whole idea started. People just go around in circles with the same constant problems all the time but as she says, if you’re lucky enough and have enough momentum, you can fall out of that circle and onto your own new path that will hopefully lead you to a successful life.

As soon as I saw this exhibition, I absolutely loved it and it just caught my attention so dramatically. In the beginning, I didn’t really realize why but then when I read the artist’s statement and actually talked with Helen, I understood why. Helen was the absolute best and she was so sweet and I loved her story and it just caught me really well because some of the things she was talking about, I needed to hear in retrospective to my own path in life with what I’m doing because it’ll help me choose a better path for myself and not just stay in a never ending circle of problems. In the end, I really loved Helen’s art because it just really popped for me. I though it was ironic that for the first picture I show, Helen was going to cut off the strip at the bottom to remove the paint drips but then she decided against it because she liked how chaotic and sort of 3D it looked and I couldn’t agree with her more. I also found it funny how she pointed out that in a way she has also come full circle. She started in art when she first went to college, then branched off to art education, then to being a librarian, and now she’s back to art again though it’s in a different setting. In the end, I think she’s had a great journey and I’m sure she will continue to succeed.


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