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Des Moines Art Center to feature Iowa City photographer Rachel Cox for Iowa Artists: 2020 exhibition


The Des Moines Art Center is proud to continue their almost 70-year tradition of hosting an Iowa Artists exhibition. This year the Blank One gallery will feature the work of Iowa City-based photographer Rachel Cox. Iowa Artists 2020: Rachel Cox will open Oct. 16, 2020 and close Jan 3, 2021.

Iowa Artists 2020: Rachel Cox will contain selections from Cox’s “Mors Scena” series. After participating in funeral arrangements for family members, the artist became interested in the décor of funeral homes, and how the colors, lighting, and formal elements of these staged environments manifest within the grieving process. Cox conducted research at small, independently owned funeral homes to not only capture their unique, uncanny spaces, but also delve into how notions of class, culture, and social expectation all play a role in how such places come to look and feel. The resulting photos capture the uncertainty and sense of loss often present after a death in contemporary America. Says the artist “Working on this project during a time of unrivaled global and national tragedies has given me more confidence to trust that this kind of representation can reveal the beautiful, yet complex, ways we process grief.”

Rachel Cox lives and works in Iowa City as the Assistant Professor of Photography at the University of Iowa. Her work has been shown at the Houston Center for Photography, the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center, the Belfast International Photography Festival, and the Museo de los Artes in Mexico City, among many other national and international venues. Her images have been published in TIME, the Huffington Post, VICE, the British Journal of Photography, and The Guardian and is included in the collections of The Museum of Contemporary Photography, The Musee de l’Elysee, The University of North Texas Special Collections Library, and in the libraries of the Amon Carter Museum of Art, Maryland Institute of Art, Pier 24, and School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This exhibition is curated by Laura Burkhalter, who says “I reached out to Rachel about an exhibition about a year ago because I was so compelled by how intense her images were despite how minimal they are in what they show. Now, when so many families have lost loved ones due to COVID, the photographs are timelier than I could have ever anticipated.”

The Art Center’s official exhibition website,, will offer links to a downloadable gallery guide and schedule for related programming, including a virtual gallery talk with artist Rachel Cox and curator Laura Burkhalter still to be scheduled.

Stay tuned to and the Art Center’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels for additional updates.

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