Jack Cox is a brand new force of sculptural nature and a sculptor-illustrator based in Brooklyn, the heady part of New York City. I became aware of his 3D work through New York Nico (my son) and I was excitedly aghast by the wit, precision and eerie naturalistic qualities Cox has honed since his time in high school and through his recent years spent studying at Pratt Institute. All the sculptures you see here are a mixture of various materials, primarily oven fired polymer clay. Cox and I spoke about his work between head shots.
What inspired you to do these remarkable sculptures?
Most notably the quirks and innately bizarre characteristics all humans share. We rarely acknowledge how strange we look, the weirdness we all possess. It’s brought me to observe people’s behaviors and physical characteristics in a way that breaks from our human tendency to take our own appearance or existence so seriously. I’ve always been interested in the potential of sculpture to impose a physical presence. Their potential to interact with the viewer in a very human way has always been an ideal conduit for getting this idea across.
Did you begin as a cartoonist?
I actually did! My first love was drawing and I did as much as I could when I was younger and still do today. I went to college for a degree in Illustration where my work became less focused on traditional technical work like the foundational training I did throughout my childhood and through high school and more and more towards my interest in the uncanny and the grotesque reality of human appearance.
I see Spitting Image in this work. Who are your influences in this or any other aspect of your art?
I’ve always been a fan of surrealist art, mostly for its combination of amazing craftsmanship and skill with the bizarre and mystical. As I got older, I gravitated heavily towards graphic novelists like Daniel Clowes and R. Crumb. I feel like their collective take on humankind really left an impression on me. A few sculptors that stick in my mind are Tony Oursler who’s piece “A Self Portrait in Yellow” really effected me as a kid and Patricia Piccinni who’s hyper realistic surreal work has been a huge inspiration for me.
When did this skill (and talent) begin to emerge?
Though I focused on drawing sooner to hone my foundational observational skills, I’ve always been sculpting as well. Any way to make new work I’ve been exploring since I was very little. I have sculpted heads from when I was in elementary school and drawings from all throughout my life.
What is your goal in doing them?
To evoke the notion of not taking life so seriously, to allow the viewer to recognize our similarities and our shared creepiness. Career-wise my goal is to make work that I feel is true to my vision and live off of my art and ideas.
Your ability to capture likeness is uncanny, what do gives you pleasure about the human face?
The main thing that keeps me interested is my ability to work without reference and still create faces that are recognizable, to create objects that we recognize as people. I’ll never cease to be inspired by the quirks and oddities that the human face holds, the beauty of the bizarre.
Have you done this work for any professional jobs?
Right now I live off of commissioned works! A lot of portraiture for personal projects as well as utilizing the sculptures as a medium for illustration work for things like album covers and movie posters, to name a few. As I continue to show work online, commissions guide me to newer more interesting professional jobs that both sustain my ability to sculpt for a living and open my mind to a variety of other genres of art that the sculptural work can apply to.
How far do you think you will take your art?
I will explore the potential of installation in galleries and the ways in which one might interact with the sculptural works, as well as working on stop-motion films in a more professional context, which I’ve done since I was young. It’s always been my dream to put work into the world straight from my brain to be received for what it is and nothing more.
Visit www.johandrox.com to see more work by Jack Cox.