Cats Rule All. It’s more than a slogan or a dope Instagram handle. For artist Ange Cox, it’s a way of life. From a career in animation and illustration, to a robust cinema and stage practice in fabrication, costuming and special effects, Cox has found a realm of surreal and delightful personal expression. Fusing her eclectic skills in painting, sculpture and design with a feline-forward sense of humor and surrealism her Cats Rule All project is a body of oversized, perfectly fabricated, lovingly rendered, wearable, cuddly, creepy/cute cat-head masks that are mesmerizing, monumental and hilarious, both bringing people together and keeping them at a distance.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
ANGE COX: I still have a poster that I made in the first grade for student of the week. In the middle of the poster I wrote in huge green, picturesque letters “when I grow up I want to be an artist.” I think I’ve always known I’m an artist but I didn’t really start feeling like it was my profession until I was in my 20’s and started having art shows.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work is about cats. Without being too obvious, I make cat themed pieces that combine American political and popular imagery with cats. My concept is to re-appropriate quintessentially American symbols by adding cats. Of course, cats, in the popular internet meme-driven imagination have come to mean anything from simple joy to mindless entertainment. In most cases, cats, cat videos, cat memes, are meant to diffuse and entertain. Cats are also very relatable within their personality of the cuddly but tough, I’m going to do what I want to do attitude. They’re a visual shorthand for safety from harm and innocent enjoyment. In a time when the social and political climate is ever more chaotic, I just want to take the fever-pitched discussion and put a cat on it.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
Probably a plant geneticist or botanist. Plants are very much like art to me, they grow and evolve into something beautiful. There’s a lot of magic to plants and art, it brings me and others so much peace and wonder.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I went to the Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago and achieved a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts focusing in Media Arts and Animation, freaking mouthful. Going to art school was one of the best times of my young adult life. I never was good in school until I went to college. I excelled and got good grades because everything was related to doing something I love. I was a teacher’s assistant in our department and taught 2D programs on the side. My first art job was doing traditional, hand-drawn 2D animations while I was a senior. I learned so much about technique and work ethics through school, it gave me structure.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
My skills have flourished the most and I’ve been the most financially successful in Los Angeles. I’ve lived and worked in Chicago, New York City, Portland, and the Bay Area. All great experiences but nothing compares to the diverse and exciting opportunities Los Angeles has to offer.
When was your first art show?
It was either Catzilla, an annual benefit event in Chicago that celebrates all things feline, or at the Brewery Artist Lofts here in L.A.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
My next show won’t probably be until this fall or winter at the Brewery after the pandemic has settled.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?
Louis Wain for sure. As far as the living, I’d love to have a show with Robin Eisenberg, Casey Weldon, or Svetlana Shigroff.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?
Music is everything to my artistic work flow. I love sculpting to Lightning Bolt. I also listen to Sleep, Floor, Big Business, Operation Ivy, my friend’s band Slimer, a lot of metal and punk. Sometimes opera or hip-hopera.
Website and social media handles, please!