Lily Cox-Richard

MFA, 2008

Lily Cox-Richard earned her MFA in Sculpture + Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University, and BFA in Jewelry/Metal Arts from California College of the Arts. Recent solo exhibitions include Hirschl & Adler Modern (New York), Vox Populi (Philadelphia), and the Hudson River Museum (New York). She has been awarded a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, a postdoctoral fellowship in the University of Michigan’s Society of Fellows, and residencies at the Core Program, Millay Colony, and the MacDowell Colony. Lily is the Critical Initiative Coordinator for the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

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What have you been up to since graduating from VCU?

Since graduating from VCU, I have lived and worked in an Austrian quarry, spent time in the Smithsonian’s off-site storage bunker, and did grounds work at a Poor Farm cemetery in Wisconsin. These experiences, as well as other more traditional artist residency programs, have supported the development of my studio practice.

What advice would you give a current VCU Sculpture student?

Keep your overhead low.

How did VCU prepare you for your current situation?

I spent the last two months back in Richmond, co-teaching the VCU Summer Studio Program. I’m about to drive back to Houston, Texas, where I have my studio and am the Critical Initiatives Coordinator at the Core Residency Program. But first, I’ll be driving to Michigan, to purchase hundreds of pounds of scrap copper for a sculpture I’m working on. One way that VCU helped prepare me for this “current situation,” is by providing role models: The faculty is made up renowned artists who are also dedicated teachers. They didn’t hide the fact that juggling these different facets is a real challenge; they provided examples of how it can work. I can’t blame my 600-mile detour on the VCU faculty, but they did in some way inspire it.

How do you define success?

Sustainability. In 30 years, if my studio practice is still my driving force, and I have configured a life in which most of my time is spent making and thinking about art, I will consider that a success.

Why did you decide to study sculpture?

My BFA is in Jewelry/Metal Arts. I realized that I didn’t want my work to be predetermined by one material, so I had to open things up. Sculpture is wide open.

Is there a question we should ask you, but didn’t?

What’s so special about VCU? The intensity is compounded with community. One day, one of my fellow grad students said, “Lunch happens everyday, and everyday, I come unprepared for it. Maybe if it was only once a week, I could get it together and plan ahead.” We nodded in agreement. Long days in the studio makes for good problem solving, and the solution we found was called “Club Sandwich.” Five of us were game, so it worked out well: each person was responsible for one weekday, and on that day, they made 5 sandwiches. A fresh homemade sandwich awaited each of us daily, and we only had to think about lunch once a week. Club Sandwich only lasted through the year, but the friends I made at VCU continue to be sources of nourishment.