by V.L. Cox
“END HATE DOORS”
The series was created in response to Arkansas’s HB1228 which made it out of committee in
March of 2015. This discriminatory bill would have brought back Jim Crow days where hatred
and repression were the law of the land. The “End Hate” installation was installed twice on the
steps of the Arkansas State Capitol as a First Amendment protest of the reckless and unjust
behavior by the 90th General Assembly. Through social media and the Associated Press, the
series helped bring world-wide attention to the struggle. With enormous pressure now being
forced on government officials, HB1228 was defeated.
The celebration was brief. With similar bills being considered and passed across the country, the
“End Hate” installation was then taken to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., where the
“I Have a Dream” speech was delivered by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.
on August 28, 1963. His speech was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights
Movement. With Civil Rights laws now slowly being chipped away or even denied for some, this
was a sacred place where dreams and freedom were born and was the perfect place to once
again, stand for justice and equality for all. To say that the series was well received on that day,
is an understatement. Over 250,000 people were present, and not one negative comment was
heard about the series. Not one. The power and simplicity of the historic content strongly
resonated through the crowd. It brought people that were visiting from all over the world
together in conversation, sharing their own stories of discrimination and injustice, in peace and
camaraderie. And to me, that is where change begins. Separate Is Never Equal.
END HATE DOORS are solid wooden doors from the 1950’s and paint.
42.5″ x 13.75″ x 3.75 – Mixed Media
Created from a 1896 church roof dormer from south Arkansas, wood from an old church pew,
1930 rope, and worn leather shoes. In the 1920’s, the Klan used to request full church services
and show up in all their regalia. The only way people could recognize the Klansmen was by
their hands or their shoes. A little side note: My great-grandfather was almost killed by the Klan.
He was pulled out of his house and bed by his ankles, tied to a tree, and horse whipped within
an inch of his life after being falsely accused by a man who was sour over a horse sale. My
grandfather and great-grandmother had to cut him down and nurse his bloody wounds. My
great-grandfather later recognized the shoes of a cousin that was involved in the whipping on
Main St. Arkadelphia, Arkansas and swore revenge. They never spoke again.
SOLES is comprised of an 1896 wooden church dormer vent, natural fiber 1930 rope, leather
and rubber shoes.
66” x 20”x 20” – Mixed Media Installation
After working with incarcerated youth and seeing first hand the unjust imbalance of mass
incarceration of minorities in our country today, I find this piece haunting and sad, but painfully
true. The white column is taken from an old craftsman style front porch, where a lot of time is
spent during the hot summer months due to the sweltering heat. Sitting on the front porch
watching the world go by, is a relaxing, cherished moment here in the south. Unfortunately due
to social economic status, lack of opportunity or the color of their skin, many individuals never
get the opportunity to go very far past this setting before being funneled into the lucrative and
politically controlled ‘cradle to prison’ pipeline. They literally spend a lifetime, from birth to
death, ‘looking out’ into the real world.
JIM is comprised of a vintage Crow decoy, rusted barbed wire, paint, epoxy, and wood.
Mixed Media Installation
A 1920 (95 year old) blood stained Klan robe installation. I acquired this piece from an antique
dealer who had a family bring it in after another family member died. I had no idea it was
stained with blood before the acquisition. I believe, after historical research, that this was used inthe Summer of 1919 (“Red Summer”) somewhere in the south. It’s just too stained and the time period is almost identical. I kept the robe intact, created the hood to complete it, and purchased the vintage metal signage to show the true level of hatred this robe and installation represents. The rope is an old bell tower church rope.
SOILED is comprised of circa 1919 authentic Klan robe, natural fiber rope, metal and wood.
65” x 52”x 9” – Mixed Media
While driving through Harrison, Arkansas, I passed a dusty ‘compound’ on the edge of town
with a large gate and numerous confederate flags marking the surrounding property lines as well
as the gate entrance. It’s hard to miss.
With the gate and the confederate flags being such a strong visual to me, I picked up this old
wooden gate in an antique shop around the area, and wanted to create a piece that reflects the
entrance into the dark world of White Supremacy. Antiquated, but still standing, in secrecy and
anger intertwined with hatred, ignorance and fear. The two wood boards on each end, as well
as the hinges and barbed wire were not original to the gate but were added. I then cut the flat
tops of the gate pickets into a ‘hood’ image and carved a faded white Confederate Flag into the
wood to represent the same flags from the compound. When I positioned the lighting at a 45
degree angle, it then created ‘ghosts’ behind the gate, lending an element of recognition to the
old term ‘Invisible Empire’ from back in the day.
WHITEWASH is comprised of wood, metal and paint.
13. “WHITE BREAD”
70” x 28.5”x 4” – Mixed Media
This piece was created after I read about “Klan Camp” for kids held this summer at
the National Ku Klux Klan headquarters in Harrison, Arkansas. The teddy bear is
facing backwards to represent the loss of innocence, and addresses children and early
indoctrination. This screen door is also part of my “Images of the American South”
screen door series. This long running, 24 year narrative body of work is registered
with the Library of Congress and tells the story of the South.
WHITE BREAD is comprised of wood, metal and paint.
41″ x 48″ x 5″ – Mixed Media
“Old Glory” is a sculptural piece made out of vintage steel and cloth. This old blue steel has been
knocked around until it appears ruined and damaged, but is still as strong as ever. I couldn’t
even bang out some of the dents with a sledgehammer. It was then I decided to use it for this
piece. I for one am sick and tired of all the crazy, narcissistic ’Reality TV’ drama that has torn
our country apart. I wanted to do a piece to show that even though we take a pounding,
regardless of our stance or differences, I still believe that we are Americans, our country is
strong, and freedom, equality and justice FOR ALL will prevail.
OLD GLORY is comprised of metal, cloth, and paint.
Mixed Media Installation – 109″ x 60″ x 25″
I created “No Vacancy” from old 9 foot tall church steeple from the Delta after reading the story
the Arkansas Times did on a young man in northern Arkansas who received a letter in the mail
from his church telling him he was immediately being removed from their membership records
because he was gay, and then another story about a man who had to actually move his deceased
partner’s grave due to the threats in Baxter County. The worker for the monument company
who was moving the tombstone was even approached and threatened by a man with a Bowie
knife in a Wal Mart parking lot of “why he had that ‘faggot’s’ headstone in the back of the
truck.” Stories like this are all to common today and I don’t think this is what Christ had in mind
when he told people to ‘love thy neighbor.’
NO VACANCY is comprised of wood, metal, plastic, electrical lighting and paint.
36″ x 56″ x 2.5″ – Mixed Media
Represents the damage the extreme faction of the ‘Tea Party’ has done to our country when the
pages of the Bible are ripped out of context and used to harm others. It’s made up of over six
hundred and six (606) pages of the Bible made into tea bags with real tea inside. I started at the
bottom with Leviticus, with an entire bible being used in this piece as well as part of another
STAINED is comprised of paper, paint, black tea, string and wood.
“HOME OF THE BRAVE”
74″ x 34″ x 21″ – Mixed Medium Installation
Being a rational, concerned individual is one thing. Reckless panic is another. Created out of an
old Craftsman front porch column “Home of the Brave” represents the ridiculous level of ‘Fear’
that is being intentionally streamed into our homes to separate us as Americans today. Fear fuels
mistrust, repression and hatred among neighbors. Yes, there are things we need to take care of,
but keeping a level head, checking facts, and not taking direction from emotionally charged
individuals or media sources that are bent on monetary or personal gain is the solution. Truth is
the key to our safety, security and happiness. America doesn’t need to “be great again,” it never
stopped being great, and don’t let anyone motivated by self-interest or fear tell you otherwise.
HOME OF THE BRAVE is comprised of wood, metal, and epoxy.
54” x 15”x 14” – Mixed Media Installation
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the
heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26.
This piece represents the convenient loss of humanity toward others in this digital age. While
talking in great lengths to a friend one day about an idea I had for a project on this subject, she
mentioned one of her favorite biblical quotes that went along with the stone heart I had just
carved. I actually liked it. Bottom line, regardless of your beliefs it’s up to all of us to make the
efforts to open our hearts to others before any change can take place.
I chiseled the stone heart with an air hammer, and the old rusted barbed wire came from property blessed by a church. The base is an antique craftsman style porch column representing the foundations and lessons of the South. The light represents hope.
There’s always hope…
PILLAR is comprised of wood, rusted barbed wire, stone, electric lighting, epoxy, and wood.
“READY, AIM, FIRE AND BRIMSTONE”
25.5″ x 33.5″ x10″ – Mixed Media
Represents how careless, reckless and forceful the bible can be thrown around these days here in
the South. At times, it’s as casual as shooting a sign as you drive by it, or hitting the sign with a
beer bottle. Original vintage bible cover over wood with gold leaf, mounted on the end of a
1939 Coca Cola box cooler.
READY, AIM, FIRE AND BRIMSTONE is comprised of metal, wood, paper and Tibetan
57″ x 47″ x5.5″ – Mixed Media
This piece was created after reading about the numerous black churches that were being burned
down through the south after the Charleston Massacre. The stained glass window is from 1896
and the brass fire extinguisher is from the 1920’s. Both come from old churches in South
Arkansas. The wooden background is made from an old church pew from off Roosevelt Road in
Little Rock, Arkansas and burned along with old wallpaper attached to it.
BLESSED ASSURANCE is comprised of glass, metal and wood.
“IT’S TIME WE START OVER AND TALK ABOUT HATE”
23.25″ X 17.75″ X 5.5″ – Mixed Media
When hate escalates to violence, it IS an emergency. It’s time to go back to the basics, start from
the beginning, and learn to talk to one another. This is why I used an image of a simple child’s
toy for the subject matter. The glass front is a resized 1950 wooden window, mounted on a
vintage mercantile display case from the 40’s.
IT’S TIME WE START OVER AND TALK ABOUT HATE is comprised of glass, metal,
plastic, natural fiber, paint, and wood.
42″ x 70″ – Mixed Media
Old church chalkboard from the 1930’s with a vintage school bus ‘stop’ light. It represents how
early we need to teach our children about stopping hate.
STOP HATE is comprised of paper, wood, glass, metal and paint.
Artist: V.L. Cox
V.L. Cox was born in Shreveport Louisiana and raised in Arkansas. She acquired a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Henderson State University in 1991. Cox’s recent work has been highly active in projects that involve Human Rights and Equality. In 2015, she launched her National “End Hate” Installation Series, an anti-discrimination series that was placed twice on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol, and then at the base of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Cox understands how to draw the viewer into her work through her experience with working with large audiences. While working as an artist in Dallas, Texas, Cox worked in the scenic industry constructing and painting large backdrops for theatrical organizations such as the Dallas Opera, the Dallas Ballet, and the Los Colinas Film Studios. Some of the productions include: The Nutcracker and Phantom of the Opera. Cox also painted the background for the National Civil Rights Humanities Awards in Memphis, Tennessee where Leah Rabin, wife of slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, spoke and presented the award for freedom.
People and surroundings heavily influence Cox’s work. Over the years she has developed
a growing interest in historical preservation while portraying a southern way of life. Cox
currently resides in North Little Rock, Arkansas and has been painting for 26 years. She
works as a full time-artist and her work can be found in international private and
corporate collections. Her progress in the art world has been rapid.