Artist: Helen Werner Cox
Exhibition: “Silent Screams”
Media: pastels, charcoal, oil paint, prints, ink
Gallery: CSULB School Of Art, Gatov Gallery West
About the Artist:
Helen is in her last semester of graduate school at CSULB. She will be graduating from the drawing and painting (figurative tract) program in the school of art. This exhibition is a project included in her completion of her MFA. Helen’s hobbies include gardening and reading, her preferred genres of books include fictional dramas and mysteries. Before she attended CSULB, she was a teacher for about 30 years. She taught high school and after a while she decided she would take on the task of teaching middle school and she ended up loving it. After spending 13 years in Boston, Massachusetts, the cold weather drove her to California. Here she spent 14 years as a school librarian in North Long Beach. She had already completed her Bachelor’s degree at Boston University and decided to attend CSULB for her Master’s. Helen’s exhibition explores the history and wonders of carousels and how they represent society.
Helen’s work had many different media types, ranging from photos made with ink and charcoal to large canvases with oil pastels to a carved sculpture made from wood. All of these pieces vary in color and technique but overall give off a feeling of magic and uniqueness. The vibrant colors and prominent shading make for bold pictures that really stand out. On the other hand, the neutral tones and shading make the horses stand out in a way much less vibrant but equally as bold. Her drawings and paintings demonstrated what seemed to be a lot of hatchwork and linear stokes. The pieces are all blended together and seem to flow from picture to picture, despite their various forms.
Helen mentioned that she had gone to multiple carousels to find inspiration for her work. She started at Santa Monica’s carousel but believed it looked too upscale and polished, she wanted to find one that was much more raw. That’s when she discovered the carousel in Griffith Park and became immediately inspired.She noticed the horses had their mouths opened and looked like they were screaming, which is the reason she named her exhibition “Silent Screams”. The paintings, sculpture, and other pieces all flowed together and made it seem as if I was looking into history. The mouths and facial expressions on the horses created a feeling of distress but the bright colors and cheerful music created a feeling of joy. The pieces seemed to contradict themselves and thoroughly demonstrated how mysterious and interesting carousels (and their stories) can be. This can be related back to society because it is also just one large contradiction with a long path of history.
I really loved this piece and I loved listening to Helen speak. I could see it in her face and hear it in her voice that she really loves what she does and has a great interest in carousels and I believe it was beautifully shown in her work. I also enjoyed the fact she added music to her exhibition because it really made me feel like I had just stepped on to a carousel. Helen did an incredible job at making her artwork seem as if it was coming alive and I never got tired of looking at her pieces. I now have the desire to go ride a carousel because I have a whole new outlook on what they are and how important and inspirational they can be.