Born in central New York State and raised in the intellectually rich household of a midwife and minister, which also produced a classical scholar, a linguist and another teacher, Helen Werner Cox used her life-long passion for art to gain entrance into Boston University’s prestigious School of Fine Arts.
Trained as a classical painter and thoroughly grounded in visual arts and education, Helen made the choice to use her training to effectuate her second great passion in life – the affirmation of multiculturalism and access to quality education for those born into poverty.
Helen taught art in several different environments, public and private, before taking on program management at the Neighborhood Arts Center in Boston’s South End. Through these experiences, she developed an interest in literacy and then obtained a master’s degree in educational management at Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Pregnant with her only child, Naomi, Helen relocated to Southern California in 1988. She taught art at Lindbergh Middle School in the tough neighborhood of North Long Beach (Long Beach Unified School District) for three years. Upon the retirement of the librarian, Helen developed a proposal to promote literacy through the middle school library. In the face of opposition from a few district bureaucrats, she was challenged by her principal to implement her ideas.
Working with a mission to provide the highest quality of programs and library materials anywhere, Helen transformed the Lindbergh library into a magical “Reading Room,” which won for her the School Library Journal’s and Gale Publishing Company’s 2002 Giant Step Award for the nation’s most improved media center.
After obtaining her national credential as a Library Media Teacher, Helen intensified her efforts during the last four years of her teaching career before retiring in 2010 and transformed yet another poverty-area library at Hamilton Middle School into a center for literacy, art, and multiculturalism.
Working with high school volunteers, Helen supervised the painting of a large landscape mural across one end of the library. Her hand-painted “stained glass” windows, depicting illustrations from children’s books, were hung in the windows and she created cloth tapestries for the walls of the renovated library.
Following her retirement from teaching, Helen decided to actualize her training and talents as an artist. To join an artistic community, advance her skills, and reach the level of professionalism necessary for the creation of high quality art, she entered the masters’ program in the College of the Arts at California State University Long Beach. She will graduate in the spring of 2016.
Helen was driven to make art in order to document the beauty of the world around her and to confront her anxieties about the destruction wrought by military powers and multi-national corporations. Currently she is working on a series called Silent Screams, which focuses on the antique carousel as a metaphor for society and the circles we spin. It includes paintings, drawings, prints, and a wood carving.
Insights, University Art Museum, Long Beach, CA. 2016.
Made in California, City of Brea Art Gallery, Brea, CA. 2016.
MFA Biennial Exhibition, City of Brea Art Gallery, Brea, CA. 2016.
2016 Juried Open, Topanga Canyon Gallery, Topanga, CA.
2016 Delta National Small Prints Exhibition, Arkansas State University.
All Media 2015, The Irvine Fine Arts Center.
Student International Small Print Show (SIPS15), El Minia University, Egypt.
2015 Delta National Small Prints Exhibition, Arkansas State University.
CSU Chancellor’s Gallery, Long Beach, CA. 2014.
Art of All Ages, Long Beach, CA. 2012, 2013, 2014.
Windes Corporate Gallery Award, Long Beach, CA, 2016.
Made in California Juried Exhibition, City of Brea Art Gallery, 2016. First Place.
Les Christensen Purchase Award, Bradbury Art Museum, Delta National Small Prints Exhibition, 2016.
Marilyn Werby Scholarship, California State University Long Beach, 2015.
President’s Purchase Award, Arkansas State University, 2015.
Silver in the Round: International Woodcarver of the Year, Sussex, England, 2011.