- Collection ID:
- Physical Description:
The papers of African American photographer Renee V. Cox measure 5.7 linear feet and date from 1973 to 2018, with individual materials from 1945 and 1955. The bulk of the materials date from the 1990s. The collection contains biographical material, correspondence, writings, exhibition files, materials related to Cox's photographic projects and other professional activities, personal business records, printed material, and photographic material.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of African American photographer Renee V. Cox measure 5.7 linear feet and date from 1973 to 2018, with individual materials from 1945 and 1955. The bulk of the materials date from the 1990s. The collection contains biographical material including resumes, calendars and appointment books, education records, and family records; personal and professional correspondence; writings including notes, notebooks/sketchbooks, artist statements, and writings by others; and exhibition files, including plans, photographs, and loan forms. Also included are materials related to Cox's photographic projects and other professional activities, including proposals, plans, teaching files, and professional travel itineraries, as well as material related to the Yo Mama's Last Supper controversy; personal business records, including invoices, sales records, contracts, and agreements; printed material, including clippings, exhibition materials, magazines, and newspapers; and photographic material including slides, contact sheets, prints and copies of Cox's work, family photographs, travel photographs, and photograph portfolios/scrapbooks.
This collection is arranged as eight series.
- Series 1: Biographical Material, 1945, 1955, 1973-2011 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
- Series 2: Correspondence, 1975-1977, 1990-2008 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
- Series 3: Writings, circa 1975, circa 1990s-2008 (Boxes 1-2; 0.4 linear feet)
- Series 4: Exhibition Files, circa 1990s-2010 (Box 2; 0.4 linear feet)
- Series 5: Projects and Professional Activities, circa 1987-2009 (Box 2, Box 7; 0.4 linear feet)
- Series 6: Personal Business Records, 1992-2015 (Box 3; 0.2 linear feet)
- Series 7: Printed Material, 1974-2018 (Boxes 3-7; 3.4 linear feet)
- Series 8: Photographic Material, circa 1980s-2000s, undated (Boxes 6-7; 0.3 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Renee V. Cox (1960- ) is a Jamaican-born African American photographer in New York, NY. She is known for using her work to celebrate Black womanhood and for confronting racism and sexism in her reimagined depictions of religious or cultural figures. Cox began her photographic career as a fashion photographer, working with major fashion houses, supermodels, and agencies to create images that were published in Essence, Seventeen, Mademoiselle, Ebony Man, Sportswear International, and many others.
In 1992, she earned her Master of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York, NY and went on to attend the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. Renee Cox was the first woman to attend the program while pregnant and she created works in her Yo Mama series during this time, including a statue of her nude, pregnant form.
In 2001, Cox's work Yo Mama's Last Supper was included in the Committed to the Image exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. The image is a reimagining of Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper with Cox as Jesus surrounded by Black disciples and a white Judas. New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani called for a commission to set decency standards for any New York museum receiving public funds. In addition to the press coverage, Cox received hate mail and threats from people about the piece.
Cox continues to create work engaged in dialogues about the intersection of race, gender, class, and power. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is held in many private and public collections.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers were donated in 2019 by Renee V. Cox as part of the Archives' African American Collecting Initiative funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.
The collection was minimally processed and a finding aid prepared by Rayna Andrews in 2021 with funding from the Henry Luce Foundation.
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records or audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Renee V. Cox papers, 1945-2018. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Archives of American Art
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