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Renée Cox’s ‘Soul Culture’ exhibit explores the beauty of the human body

Soul Culture, an art exhibition by Renée Cox that is currently on display at the Columbia Museum of Art, tackles subjects such as race and gender by using the body as the central subject of her work.

Cox is a Jamaican-American artist who focuses her themes on drawing attention to the beauty of the black body while working with sacred geometry and fractals.

“You have plenty of ugliness around you. Why would you want to make more? Beauty is a good thing,” said Cox, discussing the basis of her work.

She creates her unique art by digitally manipulating photos and then cutting and hand-weaving them into three-dimensional kaleidoscope pieces. Her portraits are also inspired by Hindu and Buddhist religious art, 1960s psychedelia, and the use of fractals in African culture.

“It’s always been about the shape, creating shapes with the body. That’s the major impetus which has always driven me,” Cox explains.

Dr. Stephanie Y. Mitchem, a religious studies professor at the University of South Carolina, discussed themes within Renée Cox’s art at the Columbia Museum of Art on January 23.

Mitchem explored concepts such as culture, history and religion found throughout the creation of Cox’s work. She examined the idea of Cox’s Jamaican heritage having heavy influence on the basis of the art, and discussed key cultural figures and architecture in Jamaica that parallel many of the concepts within the exhibit.

“The idea of Soul Culture is not western and individualistic. It is communal and uses a different philosophy that we don’t always recognize,” explained Mitchem.

Renée Cox’s Soul Culture exhibition will be on display at the CMA until April 22, 2018. It features multiple remarkable bodies of work along with an audio tour with verbal commentary by Cox.

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