Brandon Coley Cox

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Artist Statement

Being 30 years old and having lived within the urban communities of Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City for my entire life; I have become keenly aware of being perceived by others inaccurately due to American racial constructions. Deep layers of billboard advertisements typically surround these communities and for nearly a decade I have used this material in my work as a meaningful layer of “paint”, referencing prejudiced views that are levied against black people. My current studio practice involves pulverizing these ads and creating a new form of paper which I then make various shades of black and embed with specifically chosen objects. Hammered pieces of metal, meteorites that fell from the sky in 1492, powdered tires, shredded steel bits, natural crystals, etched and inked copper plates, and royal purple velvet fabrics all combine within one piece to create an unexpected yet intriguing experience. It is my goal to not only slow down the reading of a painting, but to trump the historically given terms entirely. This directly relates to being able to perceive a kind of blackness that’s not so easily definable.

From figurative to abstract, my new paintings and prints look somewhere in between the asphalt of the street and the starry deep of space. This “pointing upwards” is crucial because it relates directly to the West African spiritual belief system of Ifa, which I practice. Ifa provides an African-based means of self-improvement and higher ascent towards one’s soul. This alchemical quality is something that I strive for in my practice and conceptually reference through my handling of materials and mark making. The overall project of radicalizing a new ground, presentation strategies and forms of blackness via painting and printmaking is further reinforced by negating their respective traditions. Decisions such as replacing cotton canvas with sagging funkadelic velvet, pouring black “urban pulp” on the floor as opposed to working from an easel, and not using paint are intentional conflations that are necessary for me to maneuver conceptually.

In “Oh trust, we’ll meet again” a large paper and velvet “X” traverses the entire piece. In Ifa, this represents the deity Esu who owns the crossroads between life and death, the physical and spiritual. A large black velvet crow soars above the crossroad while a tiny brass bird flies in the opposite direction while simultaneously serving as the former’s eye. The compositionally-crucial orange triangle acts as an abstract painting element or an emergency cone on the street. This piece and others included in my current body of work were created in dedication to recently slain black victims of American police violence. The metaphors are intended to be relevant, ruminative and ultimately visually engaging.




2015 MFA, Yale School of Art. New Haven, CT

2009 Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture. Skowhegan, MN

2008 BFA, University of the Arts. Philadelphia, PA


2011 PAID, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA

2010 B. COX, The Garment Room, New York, NY


Yale Painting & Printmaking Graduates, Garis & Hahn, New York, NY
RESPOND, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY
2,015 But Who’s Counting: MFA Thesis Exhibition, Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT

13 Artists, 24/6, Yale University, New Haven, CT

For Ed: Luncheon in the Grass with Olympic Lad and Lass, Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT

Ain’t Pressed: Brandon Coley Cox & Duron Jackson, Reginald Ingraham Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
America Now, McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte, NC
Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair, Baltimore Museum of Art, MD

New Prints 2011/Summer curated by Trenton Doyle Hancock, Int’l Print Center New York, NY
Studio Immersion Project II, Elizabeth Foundation. New York, NY

I Know What You Did Last Summer, St. Cecilia’s, Brooklyn, NY
The Mothership Has Landed, Rush Arts Gallery, New York, NY

Nat’l Conference of Artists Invitational, Philadelphia, PA
Hexchange, Hexagon Gallery, Baltimore, MD


2015 Honorary Ely Harwood Schless Memorial Fund Award for Excellence in Painting, Yale University

2014 Barry Cohen Award for Excellence, Yale University

2009 Camille Hanks-Cosby Scholarship, Skowhegan, MN

2007 Dean’s List, The University of the Arts.

2004 Granville T. Woods Full Scholarship for Academic Achievement


2010 Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop Fellowship, NY, NY

2009 Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture Residency, Skowhegan, ME

2007 Printmaking/Papermaking/Book Art Residency at The Museum of Paper & Watermarks, Fabriano, Italy


Wall Street Journal, Greater New York Section, “Yale, RISD MFAs Go on Display”, July 18, 2015
The International African American Art Review, Artists on The Rise Vol. 25, No. 3, Spring