Artist: Helen Werner Cox
Exhibition: Silent Screams
Media: Canvas, Oil, Pastels Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
This week we had the opportunity to speak with artist Helen Werner Cox, a lovely and interesting woman. Werner’s exhibit was called Silent Screams, and was mainly focused around paintings and drawings of antique carousels. Werner grew up just outside of Ithica, NY and moved to Boston when she was 18, attending the BU School of Fine Arts. After she graduated, she taught at a high school in Boston for 13 years, later moving to California in search of better weather. In California, she received and offer to teach middle school in Long Beach. She taught art for 3 years, and then accepted a job as a librarian at the same school for the next 14 years, absolutely loving it. Later, Helen decided to further her art education and enrolled in the MFA Drawing and Painting Figurative Track here at CSULB.
Werner Cox used a variety of different techniques in her artwork. She explained that in her painting called Silent Screams, she first painted a brown stain over the canvas with thinned out oil paints, creating the background. She then followed with colors, focusing on warm and cool. Finally, she added the pastel colors using thin brush strokes creating the illusion of movement as you would see if you were riding the carousel. She is also very dedicated to the accuracy of her work. Werner Cox went to a carousel and rode it around for 4 hours, sketching the entire time in order to get it perfect.
By listening to Helen talk for the short time that I did, it was obvious that she was very passionate and invested in her artwork. She traveled to several different antique stores to personally view the carousels, taking in the intense detail of them. Helen explained that she first got the inspiration behind her artwork because she connects carousels to her observations of society. She believes that carousels represent the idea that people go in circles with their mistakes in their lives.
Personally, I think that the title Silent Screams is incredibly moving to me when paired with Helen’s ideas about society. I took it as a cry for help, but no one is listening. They are going round and round, but are unable to break the cycle. This idea is somewhat daunting for me, because I am one that doesn’t like to get stuck in ruts and do the same thing over and over again. I thrive with spontaneity and adventure, so this piece really made me realize the reality of it all. Overall, I had a great time talking to Helen and viewing her amazing artwork.