Artist: Helen Werner Cox
Exhibition: Silent Screams
Media: Pastels, oil paint, water paint
Gallery: Gatov Gallery West
Instagram: None Available
About The Artist
Helen Werner Cox is a graduate student here at CSULB working on her masters in the drawing and painting program. She’s in the figurative track program which means she uses real objects or representations of objects as as reference for her work. She was born and raised in Ithica, New York and moved to California pretty late in her life to get away from the stormy east coast weather. She had gone to Boston University as a painting major but switched to Art Education. When she moved to California, she felt a little lost because she didn’t have much connections to get her name out into the world here, but she eventually picked herself up. She’s been working with children and teenagers for a long time. Her longest job was as a librarian for seventeen years. Aside from painting and drawing, she likes to garden and read books.
Helen’s work displayed here is all about carousels and because of this there is a lot of motion in her work. There are points of focus and blurriness that represent the viewer witnessing motion within the paintings. In one particular painting, the perspective is warped such as to make the viewer appear to be riding on the carousel. Helen explained that while sketching out a piece for this drawing, she was actually riding the model carousel for hours to get the right perspective. She also mentioned how the deeper you look into the picture, the more distorted it looks and this is because as she was sketching the drawing, the horses would move up and down causing them to move places.
The name of Helen’s exhibit Silent Screams comes from her interpretation of the horses on the carousel. She said that she looks at the horses and it looks like they are screaming with their nostrils flared and their mouths wide open. Yet they never move. Sure they move up and down within the carousel, but individually they are silent and unmoving. It isn’t until someone steps back and looks at the movement of the carousel and the sound of the music playing within that one can see the beauty of it.
From the moment I walked into Helen’s exhibit I was amazed. Once you step inside, there’s some classic carnival music playing and you’re greeted with a small cutout carousel. Her works are mostly massive pastel and oil paintings which left me in awe. I really enjoyed listening to her talk about her life and how she worked on each piece. Her story about finding old carousels and hopping from location to location just to get the perfect reference was very interesting.