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Meet Adrian Cox

Today we’d like to introduce you to Adrian Cox.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I grew up in Georgia. Even though the town that I’m from has since become more suburban, I lived in a house that was tucked away in the woods down a long dirt road. Basically, it’s about what you might picture when you think of the rural South. However, my parents are about as far from traditionally Southern as it gets, and there was a good bit of social camouflaging that we did to blend into the community there. One of my mother’s is transgender, and my parents decided that we would have to live closeted for the sake of safety and job security. We cooked up a false family history to convince people that my parents were totally heteronormative. Obviously, since I’m discussing this publicly, they’ve started living more openly in recent years. In many ways, I think this experience helped formed the ideological foundation for my artistic practice, and was one of the generative forces that guided me to create the work I’m making today.

I moved out of the South in 2010 to pursue my MFA at Washington University in Saint Louis, and ended up living and working in Saint Louis as an adjunct professor in until recently. Although there’s a very tight-knit community of artists there, I found myself primarily exhibiting elsewhere. As interest in my work grew, I was showing my work nationally and abroad, but I also wanted a way to connect to the local arts scene. So, for four years, I ran programming at the Millitzer Gallery, an alternative Artspace that was located in South Saint Louis. However, the balancing act of teaching, curating, and painting became increasingly difficult, and I found myself spending more and more of my time working in the studio. So, this past spring, I decided to make my studio practice full time and move to Los Angeles.

Please tell us about your art.
My practice is very much about myth-making and storytelling. My paintings weave together narrative threads that form the lives of the Border Creatures, a peaceful race of beings that live in the wilderness of the Borderlands. The Border Creatures are poets and artists, drawing inspiration from their lush surroundings in the Romantic tradition, or gardeners and amateur scientists, shaping the world that makes up their composite anatomy. They exist in symbiotic harmony with the natural world, but are frequently antagonized by the Specters, spirits of pure energy that casually burn the landscape that they walk upon. In the mythology surrounding the Border Creatures, I bring together elements of science fiction, art history, mythic archetypes, and my own experience of growing up in a closeted queer family. Ultimately, these paintings are a way for me to reflect on issues surrounding a contemporary human experience.

My process for creating these paintings is incredibly time-intensive. I build sculptural maquettes of every character in my world, and use these to make the studies that I paint from. These small sculptures are made from a variety of cheap materials, often combining fake flowers, wax, clay, sugar crystals, and even socks. I’ve found that this helps me portray the same figure from different angles and under various lighting conditions. I exhibited a number of these sculptures together for the first time this past spring at Corey Helford Gallery for my solo exhibition, “Terra Incognita.”

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
I think that the role of individual artists is the same as it’s ever been, although there’s more of an urgency about what we do these days. My work certainly doesn’t stand on neutral ground, and I’m fully aware of how a message of empathy for the Other contrasts with our current cultural climate. Artists have always been agitators and advocates of change. What I’m seeing now is bigger than individual artists; it’s the power of an organized arts community. I believe deeply in the capacity for artists to band together and affect change in a way that transcends the content of a single artist’s practice.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I’ll have a painting on view at Corey Helford Gallery for the New Romantics Group show that opens on July 28th. The gallery also has a number of my other works in their inventory which can be viewed by appointment. The best way to see previews for my upcoming shows is to sign up for the newsletter on my website (www.adriancoxart.com) or follow me on Instagram (@adriancoxart). I’m also always happy to answer questions, and have my contact info on my website. So, feel free to reach out!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Bryan “Birdman” Mier.

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