Author/Artist Name

Kiley R. CoxFollow



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Academic Level at Time of Creation


Date of Creation

Fall 11-19-2021

Artist Statement

Content Warning: Trauma

Birds are beautiful, fragile, yet strong species that defy the laws of gravity. Birds have been used as symbols throughout history, and have been a huge influence within my work. To me, birds are the most relatable and enviable animals to humans. We long to adopt their risk taking behaviors, their romantic way of mating with one another for life, or even just their ability to fly and go wherever they wish. To be a bird and not care about anything in the world would be liberating. People as a whole are a lot like birds; we are both strong and fragile.

For young adults, it is this liberation and freedom that we crave so much and strive for in life. So when it is taken away from us, it is painful. As a woman, to be put in situations that take away our power over our own bodies, which has been done since the beginning of time, is nauseatingly painful. “Fight or Flight” is a representation of that power and control being taken away by creating this malicious interaction between birds and human hands.

Using charcoal, I am able to capture beautiful and soft textures of the birds while also emphasizing the harsh shadows and tense angles of the hands which are harming the birds.

The content of the work in this exhibition is very heavy and personal for me, as well as anyone else who has experienced the feeling of helplessness and feeling trapped in a situation or relationship that is destructive, unhealthy, manipulative, or even violent to be in. While particulars of transgressions against our physical, mental and spiritual autonomy differ, trauma does not exist in a hierarchy. I offer these images to survivors to validate their experiences and mourn for their own loss of self-worth and power, and to other viewers as a means to communicate the intensity and impact that traumatic experiences have on people. I hope that viewers empathize with these birds being mistreated and relate to them in ways that might help them to not only recognize their own self worth, but also to underscore the importance of acknowledging, preventing, and stopping this kind of treatment.


Todd Herzberg, Danielle Muzina, Nicole Hand, Mike Martin


10 charcoal drawings on paper, 22 x 22

9 low fire ceramic birds made from a casting mold

Photo Credit

Photo credit, Kiley Cox, 2021

Photo credit, Cross Berry, 2021

Fight or Flight



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