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  • Renee Cox

    United States

    Art Brokerage: Renee Cox American Artist: b. 1960. Renée Cox (born 1960 in Jamaica) is a Jamaican-American artist, photographer, political activist and curator. Renee Cox moved to Queens, New York at the age of three months, where she attended Catholic school and was the first girl to play on the boys’ basketball team. She moved with her family to Scarsdale, New York at the age of 14. At the time, the Cox family was one of only seven black families residing in the area. Cox has stated that her “main concern is the deconstruction of stereotypes and the empowerment of women.” She uses herself as her primary model in order to promote an idea of “self-love” as articulated by bell hooks in her book Sisters of the Yam, because as Cox writes in an artist's statement, “slavery stripped black men and women of their dignity and identity and that history continues to have an adverse affect [sic] on the African American psyche.” One of Cox’s main motivations has always been to create new, positive visual representations of African Americans. That same year, Cox’s seven-foot nude self-portrait “Yo Mama” was included in the Bad Girls show curated by Marcia Tucker at the New Museum. Renee Cox was the first woman ever to be pregnant during the Whitney Independent Study Program, pregnant at the time with her second son, which motivated her to create the Yo Mama character and series of photographs. In the photograph Renee stands nude, wearing black high heels, brandishing her older son as if he were a weapon.In 2001, the piece was included in a Brooklyn Museum of Art exhibition Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers, curated by Barbara Millstein. The image sparked an enormous controversy when Rudy Giuliani, then mayor of New York City, saw the work and proceeded to accuse Cox of being anti-Catholic. Giuliani gained national attention when he subsequently called for the creation of a panel to create decency standards for all art shown at publicly funded museums in the city. Giuliani told the Daily News that he did “not believe that it is right for public money to be used to desecrate religion, to attack people’s ethnicity.” Later that year Cox undertook another series of photographs, this one named for the Jamaican national heroine Queen Nanny of the Maroons. In the series, Cox took on the persona of Queen Nanny, who in the 18th century led a rebellion against the British for the freedom of slaves. Queen Nanny of the Maroons was originally shown at the Robert Miller Gallery in 2005. Cox then exhibited the body of work in the Jamaican Biennial in 2007 where it won the Aaron Matalon Award. Listing wanted.

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