Asheville artists celebrate the creative legacy of Carrie Cox

FOR CARRIE: Jacqui Fehl, left, and Patricia Hargrove are among several local artists participating in Wedge Artists's Collaborative Honoring Carrie Cox. Photos courtesy of Fehl and Hargrove

Local artist Carrie Cox died March 17 at the age of 53, but her creative spirit lives on through her family and former colleagues. Cox, along with her dog, Keva, was a beloved member of the community of artists working out of Wedge Studios in the River Arts District. After her death from a long struggle with cancer, previous and current Wedge artists came together to plan a celebration of her life.

Opening Saturday, May 13, inside the Spotlight Gallery at Wedge Studios, more than a dozen artists will present a group exhibition of works made in posthumous collaboration with Cox.

“Each artist has chosen unfinished work of Carrie’s and will complete the piece with their own creation and include Carrie’s original work within it,” says Patricia Hargrove, whose paintings occupy the studio right next to the Spotlight Gallery. Every finished artwork in the show is priced at $275 to help raise money for Cox’s family and their choice of charity to support in her honor.

A gentle spirit

“Carrie was very serene, sophisticated, understated, subtle, elegant — and that’s what her work was,” says artist Jacqui Fehl. “She was always trying to include people and coordinate things.”

Fehl keeps an ornament Cox made from colorful strips of paper hanging behind her desk as a reminder of her creative inspiration.

Cox was known for integrating various materials into her craft, especially paint and paper. With soft, pale tones, her abstract compositions convey tranquility and a mastery of simplicity. Circular forms in repetition, squiggly lines, fields of color and scraps of cut-paper collage all combine to communicate her vision of the world.

“Carrie was a talented, gentle-spirited and innovative artist working in paper and mixed media and is greatly missed by our community,” says Hargrove.

Cox also expressed herself through creative writing and poetry. Fehl has incorporated Cox’s poem “Cloud House” into their joint work for the exhibition, as well as bits of paper Cox assembled over the years. In her poem, Cox writes about a desire “to float/and stretch/and dance/across the sky” like a cloud.

“Carrie always liked to do work on small artwork, and I always liked to work big,” says Callie Ferraro. Ferraro previously shared the third floor of Wedge with Cox, where they became close friends. Eventually, Ferraro moved into another space on the second floor, but their friendship remained strong as they traded artwork back and forth to work on together, including a door ornamented by their collective vision. “She was one of my best friends,” Ferraro adds.

“She had a lot of ideas,” notes Rachel Klecker Clegg, who shared the third floor with Cox in the final years of the artist’s life. “She wasn’t afraid to try different materials, and she was always encouraging of collaborating with people.”

After Cox entered hospice in January, Clegg came into the studio three days a week to help Cox’s husband, Brian, organize all that remained in the studio.

“After everything was moved out, that’s when it hit pretty hard,” says Clegg, who also moved out her own work at the same time.

Celebration of life

Before her death, Cox had planned a collaborative exhibition with glass artist Emily Yagielo. The show was set to open in May. But after her death, the original two-person exhibit inside the Spotlight Gallery morphed into a larger celebration of Cox’s life.

“It was an organic thing,” Hargrove says about the process of organizing the exhibition. Hargrove initially spoke with Brian Cox about his late wife’s yet-to-be-finished work and creative ways to honor her memory. Together, they agreed that it would be meaningful to allow her former colleagues to select works that spoke to them and finish them in her honor.

“We just decided as a group: This would be a great way to honor our friend,” says Hargrove. “It’s something from our hearts.” Even if they were unable to work together with Cox in life, they could still join in art after her untimely passing.

“We all decided to each do a collaborative piece of her work as an extension of the joy that she brought to all of us,” says Ferraro.

“It was a community agreement thing. I think we just knew that was something Carrie would like,” continues Ferraro.

Fehl, Hargrove, Ferraro and Clegg all made their works well in advance of the opening night for the exhibition, partly to work through the grief of losing their friend.

“I didn’t even know what my intention was. I just started working,” says Clegg. “I think maybe that’s part of processing emotion, too, because you’re not getting ahead too much — you’re speaking through your heart in a way.”

“She did not want a funeral,” adds Hargrove. “All of the family is going to come in for this, so it’s really like a reception for Carrie [with] family, as well as the artists, the community and anybody who loved Carrie.”

WHAT: Wedge Artists’ Collaborative Honoring Carrie Cox.
WHERE: Wedge Studios, 129 Roberts St., Spotlight Gallery, second floor. Free.
WHEN: Saturday, May 13, 3-6 p.m.


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About Trevor Leach
Trevor Leach is a freelance writer and artist based in Asheville. In addition to self-publishing several books and handmade zines, they have also worked on the editorial teams of the Sentry newspaper and Paperbark magazine.

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