The Role of Helen in the Corruption of Faustus, 2017, image credit from artist website
Winner 2017 Alumni Mural Competition Renée Fox (BFA '02)
Renée Fox (BFA, Painting ’02), lives and works in Inglewood, California. Born in Frederick, Maryland, Fox studied at the Corcoran School of Art and completed her BFA at Otis College in 2002. She is a pre-qualified muralist for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs public art projects, and co-founder of the Inglewood Open Studios annual event. She has had solo and group exhibitions nationally, including Freeway Studies: Inside the Quad, curated by Meg Linton, Ben Maltz Gallery, CA (2014); and Renée A. Fox: A Decadent Work, West Los Angeles College, CA (2013). Her work is held in permanent collection at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History, Lancaster, CA, as well as private collections.
The Role of Helen in the Corruption of Faustus, 2017
Acrylic and Graphite on Polytab
The mural’s title refers to Doctor Faustus, the 16th century Elizabethan tragic play by Christopher Marlowe that cautioned against the dangers of desire. On a quest for wisdom and knowledge, Faustus conjures the demon Mephistopheles, who tempts him to sell his soul to the devil. Faustus becomes obsessed with power and pleasure, and eventually believes his ultimate salvation to be Helen of Troy, who is conjured out of Ancient Greece at Faust’s demand for the most beautiful woman to be his wife. The dangerous seduction of pleasure, symbolized by Helen’s mythic beauty, becomes his downfall.
Fifth in a series of site-specific murals begun in 2013, The Role of Helen in the Corruption of Faustus uses feminine stereotypes to question pervasive ideas about womanhood. Murals in this series were all designed with parts of different orchids and plants, animals, and references to viscera, always alluding to the sexualized female body. Whereas artist Georgia O'Keefe denied sexualized female forms in the flowers she rendered, in Fox’s work they are unapologetically “female.”