Joan Cox

MFA ’13 Fine Arts

My work opens up a dialogue about the increasingly open presence of lesbian couples in contemporary society and the lack of their presence in the history of Western art. I use narrative, historical art references and autobiography to depict taboo intimacies between women—acknowledging and emphasizing the female gaze. 

Because the lesbian perspective has been denied for so long in painting, I validate the presence of dynamic, complex, sensual, sexual, and loving relationships between women—making them less taboo. I create paintings that I wish I could have seen growing up; realities that echo my own and let me know that I am not only valid but can also find joy and acceptance.

These lush narrative paintings, layered with colorful fabrics, patterns and nature present the viewer with richly symbolic images of intimate relationships between two women, acknowledging and emphasizing the female gaze. The works here depict couples that I know and their family units that they are building. I draw on my own life with my partner of twenty-one years as well as the intimate lives of lesbian couples in my community to build visual narratives that champion our undeniably intense, complex, celebratory and (still) taboo relationships. 

JOAN COX (b. 1969) is a figurative painter who focuses on painting intimate relationships between women. Through her bold use of color—enlivening the skin tones of her figures—she creates a visual language that reflects the complexities and nuances of the queer experience. Her paintings challenge societal norms and question the patriarchal gaze, giving voice to marginalized perspectives and highlighting the beauty and strength of women. Based in Baltimore, Maryland, Cox is a painter and curator, as well as a graphic designer and photographer. She holds a BFA from Towson University and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art & Design. She is represented by Catalyst Contemporary.