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Cox uses clay to express life experience, extend compassion through art

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The work of Wichita ceramics artist Debi Cox, last seen at Bethel College as part of a group show, is now in a solo exhibit in the college’s Regier Gallery.

Cox joined five other local ceramic artists, who together form the Clay Cartel, for “Made in Ceramica” in the gallery in Luyken Fine Arts Center last March.

Currently at Bethel is Cox’s show “Compassionate Clay.”

“Expressing the depth of my life experiences of loss, grief and great love, working with clay extends my compassion through the medium of art,” Cox says in her artist statement.

“Inviting connection through in an intimate conversation, these sculptural forms symbolize the cycle of life and seeds of hope and renewal. These objects act as memory triggers. [They] focus reflection and memory and suggest the dual nature of loss and growth.”

Born and raised in Wichita, Cox has been helping mold young artists as an award-winning high school teacher (currently in Maize) for more than 30 years.

She recently completed her MFA in ceramics at Fort Hays State University. She is a graduate of Wichita North High School and Friends University and also has a master’s degree from Wichita State University.

Cox is active in the art community locally and nationally, last year displaying her work in six galleries and exhibitions, including at Bethel College.

She has won numerous awards, including “Best of Show” at the Día de los Muertos Exhibition at Topeka’s NOTO Art Center in October 2014.

“The work in the Regier Gallery represents Debi’s MFA project for FHSU,” said David Long, Bethel professor of art and a member of the Clay Cartel. “In my opinion, her work combines a functional approach with contemporary issues.

“The pottery forms are shaped in a very traditional way. Handles are made to easily pick up a teapot and spouts are carefully crafted on her forms to pour liquids, yet she uses a low-fire earthenware clay, which is largely non-functional.

“The main emphasis of the exhibit, therefore, is not one of function but is centered on ritual.Her ‘altarpieces’ are not necessarily ‘religious.’ They do, however, impart a more personal interaction with form and content – meaning.”

“Compassionate Clay” will be on display through Sept. 20, with an artist reception Sept. 17 from 6-8 p.m. in the gallery area. There will be special extended hours Saturday, Sept. 19, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., for Bethel’s annual Family Weekend.

Regier Gallery hours are Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sundays 2-4 p.m. Admission is free.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015-16 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to TitleIXCoordinator@bethelks.edu.

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