Rachel Cox lives and works in Iowa City, IA where she has been an Assistant Professor of Photography at The University of Iowa starting August of 2018.

Prints from Cox’s series have been presented at The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Houston Center for Photography, David Weinberg Gallery in Chicago, and the Philadelphia Photo Art Center. Cox has shown work internationally at The Musee del'Elysee, in Switzerland, Museo Amparo in Puebla, MX, at the 2016 PHOTO London, at the 2016 Nanjing International Art Festival at the Baijia Museum in China and recently at the Focus Photography Festival in Mumbia, India. In 2015 Cox was one of three American artists to be included in reGeneration3: New Perspectives in Photography, a worldwide survey of contemporary photographers curated and hosted by the Musee de l'Elysee in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Cox’s work has recently been published in Vice Magazine, The Huffington Post, Feature Shoot Magazine, Dodho Magazine, the British Journal of Photography, and The Guardian. Cox’s monograph, Shiny Ghost, was published in 2016 through Aint Bad. 

Cox received her MFA from the University of New Mexico and is represented by Talley Dunn Gallery in Dallas, TX.

Feel Some Type of Way


I use photography to examine the intersection between objects and social behavior. With my project Feel Some Type of Way, I have turned to the phenomenon of the Hot Tub as a type of metaphorical armature, revealing our dependency on objects as a means to combat social inadequacies.

The Tub interiors have been captured in such a way as to highlight their suggestive form, yet still offer perplexing context where ambiguity and disconnect flourish. The salesrooms these photographs were taken at further advance this notion of possibility and connection through the use of artificial food and flowers. Elaborate tableaus are constructed offering up a medley of dining and social experiences possible with the purchase of one of these complex machines. Intimacy and romance are sold with the aid of highly aestheticized architectures, gleaming surfaces, and saturated silicone forms.

The broader narrative inherent to this work describes the necessity of artifice and desire for beauty that consumes are on-going search for intimacy.

I use the forum of an exhibition space to challenge expectations surrounding photographic meaning and literacy. Therefore, the included installation examples help to describe how the works interact as a group.

© Rachel Cox

© Rachel Cox


Why the University of Iowa? 

The program at the University of Iowa offers a BA, BFA, as well as an MA and/or MFA in studio arts with an emphasis in photography. The undergraduate program is currently going through some exciting changes where we will be incorporating new technologies into the curriculum to give students a broader set of experiences and skill sets. 

The graduate program starts out as a track towards a 2-year MA where students are invited for a 3rd year to receive an MFA contingent upon passing a half-way point evaluation of their work. The program has a lot of perks including full tuition scholarships, access to health insurance, and teaching opportunities. Additionally, we have some really high end equipment ranging from drum and Imacon scanners, to medium format digital cameras available for undergraduate and graduate use. This year funding has been secured for our graduate students to attend the national SPE conference in Cleveland next March.

What courses do you teach? 

I work with both graduates and undergraduate students every semester. Right now I am teaching the graduate workshop and beginning darkroom. Next fall my courses will completely change as my goal is to teach every course we offer as a way to really get to know the program and our students.

How does your program bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary photographic practices? 

I received my BFA from the University of North Texas back when most photo programs were still analog, so my foundation is pretty solidly rooted in experiencing and learning about photography through film. Nowadays I teach a range of analog and digital courses and the benefits of incorporating both into a robust photographic education is essential. Darkroom practices never really died, there has been, and will be, a passion for this tradition not only form current practioners, but younger artists just familiarizing themselves with the medium and its history. On the other side of things photography parallels technology, therefore incorporating contemporary methods of image resourcing and production is also vital in an age where visual, globally accessible, communication flourishes. The program here at Iowa supports new technologies through course work as well as cross disciplinary collaborations.

Describe the process of output for photographs. 

Students are required to make prints in our courses. We have an output lab with multiple wide format printers and film scanners. There is also a darkroom capable of enlarging 35mm—4x5 format film. We also have a fully equipped lighting studio available for classes as well as student reservations.

Describe the critique format. 

Critiquing work is paramount in our studio courses. One of the primary reasons for pursuing a degree in art is that you are cultivating the ability to contribute to a complex conversation about ideas and aesthetics. We support and encourage that environment. There are many assignments driven critiques, but also quite a few derived from readings or research driven slideshows. We do bring visiting artists in and they typically visit the graduate students studios and/or entire undergraduate classes.

Where can we keep up with your photo department online?