Fire I Can Hold, Maryland Federation of Art City Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland
Joan Cox, The Lovers (after Schiele), Watercolor monotype on drawing paper, 2013, 54 x 40 inches
Lives and works in Baltimore, MD.
BFA Towson University, Towson, MD,
MFA Massachusetts College of Art’, Provincetown, MA
Joan Cox paints large-scale images of dynamic, complex, sensual, sexual, and loving relationships between women—normalizing them. Images of lesbian couples in both painting and photography have been lacking, hidden, or explained as erotic material for the male gaze. Whereas woman have often been portrayed in passive positions exclusively for men, Cox’s women engage with each other—not the male viewer—celebrating the female gaze. Working in large-scale figurative painting, Cox adheres to the notion that representation matters. Often one of the figures is androgynous, as if Cox is challenging viewers to recognize that these are lesbians, and not different-sex couples. While her subjects are most often friends and family, and even sometimes herself, the figures are often in settings that nod to art-historical precedents to supply the canon with images of lesbian love that have been heretofore missing. Because the lesbian perspective has been denied for so long in painting, Cox’s socially relevant works open up that dialogue through a complex investigation of cultural norms, sexual identities, and body politics.