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Work Samples

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Autumn and Jane
oil on canvas, 96" x 54" intimate interior painting of pregnant lesbian couple with luscious quilts and patterns in the bedroom mingling with colorful brush work on the treatment of the nude body suggesting the vibrancy of life within. Upper right window hosts a mini replica of a Georgia O'keefe morning glory painting— visually tying into the history of women artists, women's lives and the symbolism for new life.

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NightHunger
oil on canvas, 60" x 50" NightHunger painterly depiction of lesbian couple in their intimate domestic space, figure on the right is the artist in a self-portrait. The painterly approach to the fabrics and skintones contribute to the warmth and identities portrayed in the painting.

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24 months, mixed Media
24 months Installation, mixed media, watercolor monotype, acrylic on mylar, gold frame and light source. This is one in my series of The Impermanence of You(th) currently installed in the back room at Catalyst Contemporary as part of my solo exhibit, Frauenhaus.

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18 months
18 months: mixed media, watercolor monotype, acrylic on mylar, gold frame and light source. One of my Impermanence of You(th) installations in the back room at Catalyst Contemporary as pat of my solo exhibit, Frauenhaus on view through January 2020.

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About Joan

Baltimore City

Joan Cox's picture
My work falls within the context of identity politics, with equal parts feminist agenda and lesbian narrative. I make paintings that are full of symbolic complexity and social relevance while also portraying women who are confident in their own sexuality. By taking the route of translating my own biography into a sort of composed fiction, I create works that present the viewer with images of intimate relationships between two women, acknowledging and emphasizing the female gaze. I draw on my life with... more

Frauenhaus

Solo Exhibition Explores the World of Joan Cox’s Narrative and Symbolic Portraits of Women Sharing their Lives Together

Catalyst Contemporary presents Frauenhaus, an exhibition showcasing the work of Baltimore painter, Joan Cox, whose vibrant, textural, and richly painted works validate the presence of dynamic, complex, sensual, sexual and loving relationships between women, giving warrant to their permissibility.

The selections featured in the show highlight narrative portraits of lesbian relationships and references their lack of presence in Western art history even though visibility and accessibility of the community has increased. Cox’s entrancing portraits, a mixture of large scale oil paintings and unique watercolor monotypes, with some rendered painstakingly realistic and others drifting towards the abstract, delivers her characters as archetypes of women as domestic partners. At times, the rendered actors are placed within the context of recognizable historical artworks, imbuing new meaning within the classic works and creating an idealized timeline in art history where indeed same sex couples have a place in the Pantheon of greatness.

Another facet of Cox’s work is the allusion to the lesbian community often overlooked due to societal dismissal, even enmity of these intimate relationships. For example, two abstracted female figures walking on the beach and holding hands could merely be friends or relatives. Societal thinking shies away from the fact they could be and are, in this case, lovers, willfully assuming the former description, even when evidence is presented otherwise.

Featured in Cox’s solo show is new installation work, which moves beyond the plane of the canvas and into a three dimensional consideration of motherhood in same sex couples. Demonstrating the true complexity of the archetypal figures in the bulk of the show’s inventory are sculptural installations in the darkened, second room of Catalyst. These installations of light, shadow, and paint present dramatic images of children. Stacked outward from the wall and delicately constructed, images of swings, strollers, and wagons, contained by empty gold-gilt traditional frames hanging in mid-air, attempting to frame the suspended image of an infant or toddler painted in soft white and pink tones on mylar. A light passes through the translucent material, projecting the child figure onto a stroller or wagon. When the viewer moves around the piece, the frame fails to contain all the images. Instead, the work seems as if the traditionally two dimensional space has been exploded, each layer viscerally separated from the last. These works speak to innate feelings of motherhood within a shared female experience, making whole Cox’s somewhat self-reflective intention within her work to create a truly domestic portrait - a safe home and family space.

The German term frauenhaus traditionally refers to a womens’ house and place of refuge. Within Cox’s real and imagined pairings - some taken from the lives of women in her own life, the “womens’ house” is redefined and extended to include a place of balance and acceptance, normalization, and shared female experiences, a meaningful and purposeful description originating from Cox’s own stay at the “Frauenhaus” in Berlin, a Lesbian-specific bed and breakfast, followed by her participation at a 2009 artist residency held in Traunkirchen, Austria. Moving beyond the conceptual aspects of the title, the gallery itself is transformed into a sanctuary in which the intimate relationships of female lovers is unremarkable and where viewers can envision the potential mundanity of these domestic lives. Frauenhaus seeks to create a space carved out specifically for these relationships in an effort to normalize, acknowledge, and elevate both societal and viewer acceptance that a woman may love another woman.

The Impermanence of You(th)

These installations of light, shadow and paint create haunting images of children in order to evoke emotional responses on a gut level. Delicate constructions that attempt to capture the impermanence of childhood as a whole and specifically the impermanence of one particular child in my life. I am creating a three-dimensional space in which the viewer can experience the image of a childhood object like a playground swing, a stroller or a wagon created through a watercolor monotype process that softens the images and helps to place them in a realm of memory. Hanging several feet in front of the images (suspended by filament from the ceiling) are empty gold-gilt traditional frames, just floating in mid-air — seemingly weightless — attempting to frame the image of the paper on the wall...but as the viewer moves around the piece, the frame no longer visually contains the image. In between the empty frame and the paper on the wall hangs a sheet of clear Mylar with an image of an infant or toddler painted in soft white and pink tones—barely visible at first sight and again suspended in mid-air with an ethereal floating quality. Then as the viewer moves through the exhibit, spotlights directed at each work will slowly dim up and down revealing a strong shadow of the infant/toddler appearing in soft grays (and with surprising detail) onto the images of empty objects on the wall. Strong theatrical shadows of the heavy frames are cast on to the wall as well, creating a mini stage like environment for each piece.

TABOO (oils on canvas)

This body of work was shown in a solo exhibition "Taboo" at the Silber Art Gallery (Oct-Dec 2013) and consists of large-scale figurative oils on canvas, large watercolor monotypes and acrylic on mylar paintings. Over the past two years, I have arranged and captured intimate moments between lesbian lovers through photography, then translated the images into large-scale paintings and monotypes to produce a personal and fresh perspective. I use narrative, historical art references, theatrical elements of costumes, and autobiography to acknowledge and emphasize the female gaze. My paintings open up a dialogue about the increasingly visible presence of lesbian couples in contemporary society and the lack of their presence in the history of Western art.

TABOO (works on paper and mylar)

The works in this solo exhibition "Taboo" (Silber Art Gallery Oct-Dec 2013) consist of large-scale figurative oils on canvas, large watercolor monotypes and acrylic on mylar paintings. Over the past two years, I have arranged and captured intimate moments between lesbian lovers through photography, then translated the images into large-scale paintings and monotypes to produce a personal and fresh perspective. I use narrative, historical art references, theatrical elements of costumes, and autobiography to acknowledge and emphasize the female gaze. My paintings open up a dialogue about the increasingly visible presence of lesbian couples in contemporary society and the lack of their presence in the history of Western art.

TABOO (installation views)

Taboo (photographs)

Photographs of lesbian couples in both private and public spaces that act as source material for my paintings and also come together into one installation titled, "She Keeps Me Warm."

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Joan's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.