Rachel Cox - better than most

Rachel Cox: better than most
June 7 – July 12, 2014

In the past year as a faculty fellow at the University of Georgia, Rachel Cox visited small towns all over the southeast to check out county fairs, livestock shows, and agricultural competitions to learn more about this area of the country.  Better than most is the series of photographs that followed from Cox’s experiences and observations. The artist talks about her work as a consideration of the subjective nature of quality and value, and our culture’s fascination with assigning worth to all kinds of unexpected things.

In the diptych Bests (tree, kitten), 2013, a lively Christmas tree with lush branches sports two ribbons of distinction while its counterpart on the left shows a pedestal draped in bright pink with the award for “7th Best Kitten,” its recipient nowhere in sight.  The viewer is left to wonder about the merits of the cat and may even question the need for a “best kitten” award (much less for seventh place). Formally, the strong colors balance the pairing, and the primary shapes fill each frame so the forms play off one another.

The same dry sense of humor is also witnessed in Cox’s black and white image, Competitors.  In this work, two avocadoes are carefully displayed on a skirted table, clearly identified with numbers to assist the judges in the upcoming contest.  Each avocado is placed as though facing one another in a major showdown, going head to head for some unknown prize.  At times humorous and others surreal, Cox’s photographs consider the way value is judged and communicated in American society and our apparent need for accolades for any and all subjects.

A native of Irving, Cox received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Texas, Denton, and her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.  The artist’s work has been exhibited throughout the country, including the Albuquerque Museum of Art, the Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco, the Philadelphia Photo Center in San Francisco, and the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia, Athens.