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Joan Cox (She/Her)

Joan Cox (born 1969) is a figurative painter who focuses on painting intimate relationships between women. Images of female couples are typically repressed, hidden, or explained as erotic material for the male gaze. Working in large-scale figurative painting, Cox adheres to the notion that representation matters. She seeks to portray dynamic, complex, sensual, sexual, and loving relationships between women—normalizing them. Paintings of women in intimate settings celebrate the female gaze while they intentionally subvert the male gaze by having the two engaged with each other and not reclining sleepily for viewers’ consumption. Often Cox paints one of the figures as androgynous, as if challenging viewers to look more closely and recognize that these are lesbians, and not heterosexual couples. Because the lesbian perspective has been denied for so long in painting, Cox’s socially relevant paintings open up that dialogue through a complex investigation of cultural norms, sexual identity, and body politics.