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Heartthrob #1, Snow White, 14 x 24 1/2", 2011, Hand-embroidered x-ray.

Heartthrob #2, David Bowie, 15 3/4 x 25", 2011, Hand-embroidered x-ray.

Avatar #1, Krishna, 2011, 14 x 28 1/4", 2011, Hand-embroidered x-ray.




Artist: Matthew Cox, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Interview 63

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Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.



Matthew Cox is a Philadelphia-based artist who embraces and joins a variety of media to produce several thematic series of work. Medical x-rays and embroidery, couture and crime, rubber stamps, short-story prose and paint all layer toward a darkly comic and anachronistic impression of the human condition in the twenty-first century. 
A 2008 recipient of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, Cox studied at the Parsons School of Design in New York and Otis/Parsons in Los Angeles. Cox exhibits his work internationally and is featured in many prominent collections such as the New Orleans Museum of Art, Progressive Insurance Corporate Art Collection, the Georgetown College Art Gallery and the private collections of Beth Rudin DeWoody, E. John Bullard, Ronnie Brenner, Angela Missoni and numerous others. He has had solo exhibitions in Philadelphia, New Orleans, New York, Nashville, Chicago, Los Angeles and Hammond. He had also been a part of numberous group exhibitions. He is represented by: Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans, Pentimenti Gallery in Philadelphia, Packer /Schopf Gallery in Chicago. Matthew's Website

Avatar #2, Minotaur, 17 x 19 1/2 ", 2011, Hand-embroidered x-ray.


Tell us about your work?

In 2002 I began to embroider medical x-rays. The catalyst for this action was based on the idea of redefinition of materials that have an expected and clearly understood purpose. At about the same time I became attracted to medieval tapestry and medical x-rays, simply finding both to be beautiful. Following this notion of redefinition, I began to lay one on top of the other.

Avatar #3, Buddha, 15 1/2 x 29", 2011, Hand-embroidered x-ray.

Avatar #1, Krishna, 2011, 14 x 28 1/4", 2011, Hand-embroidered x-ray.


From where do you get your inspiration?

My earlier work was directly influenced by Dutch Renaissance painting in palette, subject [ordinary peasant life], and type of figure in terms of pale skin tone and fair or red haired. However, in 2011, I began to use international iconic images from Olive Oyl to Lord Ganesh to Zeus to elaborate the x-rays. By utilizing icons there is an additional layer of redefinition, not only of materials but also of the already attached load of presumptions that an iconic image comes with.


Avatar #4, Cyclops, 14 x 26 1/2", 2011, Hand-embroidered x-ray.


What specific historic artists have influenced your work? 

Francis Bacon, the English painter, had such an individual slant on the human experience that always rings authentic. The clarity of design and overwhelming convincingness through opacity of those surfaces overwhelms me when I encounter a painting of his.


Avatar #6, Mercury, 13 1/2 x 15 5/8", 2012, Hand-embroidered x-ray.

What specific contemporary artists have influenced your work?  

Annette Messager, French conceptual artist, hit my brain with a blast from the first time I saw those little dead sparrows with knitted sweaters. She mixes media that are generally considered domestic and feminine such, as embroidery and sewing, with the toughness of taxidermy, machinery and industrial plastics.


Avatar #6, Ganesha, 12 x 14 1/2",2012, Hand-embroidered x-ray.


What role do you think fibre art plays in contemporary art?

It seems to be an increasing one. I think because of the delicate, grandmotherly and somewhat nurturing assumptions that accompany the idea of fabric and sewing, it is a great vehicle for attracting visual attention by simply turning those notions upside down.

Daisy Bracelet, 14 x 17", 2012, Hand-embroidered x-ray.

Banana, 14 x 17", 2010, Hand-embroidered x-ray.


Can you talk a bit about the commercial viability of fibre art and do you find it more difficult to show and sell your work than non-fibre artists?

I may not be the best person to comment on this, as I don't really consider myself a fibre artist. This may seem ironic since I sew everyday. But it is the transformation of the x-rays and creating a new entity through redefinition that is the thrill. I could be using concrete and toys, or airplane parts and coffee filters, etc. I can't really speak about the commercial aspect of other fibre artists, but for me I am simply in the business of making and selling one-of-a-kind objects that are hopefully original and interesting.


Heartthrob #4, Olive Oyl, 12 1/2 x 28 1/2", 2011, Hand-embroidered x-ray.


What is your philosophy about the Art that you create?

It needs to be honest and personally authentic.


What other mediums do you work in, and how does this inform your work?

I also draw with rubber stamps, large drawings executed by stamping thousands of times over and over to create the image. I paint figuratively and love the opacity and nuance of oils. I write short stories and illustrate them in ink and graphite. I make three-dimensional collages out of ubiquitous commercial papers such as lottery tickets, money transfer forms, credit card applications, etc.


Heartthrob #2, David Bowie, 15 3/4 x 25", 2011, Hand-embroidered x-ray.


What bridges the works that you have created in differing media?

Drawing. It is the base of everything.


Which is your favourite fibre medium?

DMC embroidery thread through x-ray. But I do admire quilters.

New Knee with Tulips, 11 x 12 1/8", 2010, Hand-embroidered x-ray.

Heartthrob #1, Snow White, 14 x 24 1/2", 2011


When did you first discover your creative talents?

I didn't make my first art until I was 20. I wanted to be an opera singer first but once I got past that idea, visual art has been the only thing.


Where did you train and how did your training influence your art?

I studied at Parsons School for Design in New York and Otis/ Parsons in Los Angeles. Just being exposed to the New York art world was the most important training I received.


Lashes and Earrings, 10 x 10 1/2", 2008, Hand-embroidered x-ray.

Heartthrob #5, Popeye [with sunglasses], 21 1/2 x 24", 2012


Where do you imagine your work in five years? 

I really want to refine this process of joining divergent materials. It could go anywhere because the options are endless.


What interests you about the World of Threads festival?

I'm fascinated because it is a new festival for me.

Smile, 14 x 17", 2010, Hand-embroidered x-ray.



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Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.