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Cori FoxSketch Pad

Cori Fox
Photography by stealth
by Kathy Anderson

ori Fox had a father who dreamed of striking it rich, and he brought his family along for the ride – fishing in Alaska, mining gold in South Dakota, logging in northern Arizona. Cori, a native of Sitka, Alaska, eventually managed to stay in Arizona for 13 years before tiring of the heat and wanting a change of scenery. She's been in Portland for three years and works as an Internet producer.

Behind the scenes
Cori Fox sees the world through her camera, but she also tries to hear it.


"People can say a lot without uttering a word, and that's what I attempt to capture in my photographs," she said. "Blending in, even being invisible, is key when taking candid shots. I'll stand on a corner with my camera resting in the crook of my arm; all of a sudden I'll whip it out and snap some pictures only to turn around and act like nothing happened. I'm a stealth photographer.

"I also look for what might go unnoticed by most folks – a bouquet of flowers in a trash can, an advertisement out in the middle of nowhere, or even just a mother and child."

Under the influence
Besides Dali, Escher, Lichtenstein and Radiohead, Cori is greatly influenced by Eleanor Roosevelt.

"The woman rose from ashes to really make something of herself," Cori said. "She made the choice to be strong and determined.We all have the option to either succumb to the awful things that take place in this world or look beyond them to find the good – to look your fear in the face and move forward in spite of it. Eleanor inspired me to listen to my creative voice and follow it, rather than be ashamed and tuck it away in a closet.

The Old Highway
"The Old Highway"

"In addition, music always has and always will inspire me," she said. "I can't even begin to describe the ways that it affects me."

Coming to terms
Having to support herself since turning 18, Cori postponed her dream of college.

"I wanted to go to college immediately after high school but the financial strain of adult life – rent, food, toilet paper, etc. – outweighed all other priorities," she said. "The bottom line was I had to work. I hated it. Art school seemed unlikely.

"Then came the day I found out my employer would help pay the tuition. It was finally time to give art school a try. And here I am about to complete my second term at the Art Institute of Portland where I'm studying graphic design. I love it. I've found that sense of belonging I've been searching for.

"This is where I'm supposed to be."

Decent exposure
Cori has also just begun to share her art with others.

"I've always been very shy about showing my work," she said. "I have stacks and stacks of photos in my closet. I'd take several rolls of pictures, then look through them and say 'Oh yeah, these are good!' – then add them to the others in the closet. In that sense, I take after my dad. He'd paint these great portraits but keep them stowed away in the trunk of his car.

"About two weeks ago I submitted some photos for possible inclusion in a calendar, but before that, I had never publicly shown my work outside the classroom. I certainly would display it more openly if I had the opportunity. It's something I'm looking into."

Scoot on by
"Scoot On By"

Out of the closet
Growing up Cori expressed her creativity by plunking out tunes on a miniature piano, doing lots of arts and crafts, and writing. In high school she started playing the trumpet.

"Performing with the school concert band gave me a real rush," she said. "I still play on occasion, but just for fun, and just for me. When my roommates aren't home and I have the time, I'll slip into the basement to play. My soul sings when I play."

Feeling the need for yet another creative outlet, Cori turned to photography.

"I've had a camera of one kind or another since I was around 10," she said. "When I was 16, a friend sold me his Minolta X-9, which is the same camera I shoot with today. I had no idea how to use it, so it stayed in my closet for a long time, though I was always aware of its presence.

"Then I made a trip to Mexico, brought the camera and went absolutely nuts! I took a photography class while there and began snapping photos left and right – I couldn't help it, I found inspiration absolutely everywhere."

Country Fair
"Country Fair"

In living color
Cori was hooked. Returning to Arizona, she took several more photography classes at community colleges where she had access to darkrooms.

"I would really rather develop my own prints than let someone else do it," she said. "Because no one knows better than I do how I want to present it – what I want to cut out, subdue or emphasize. There's definitely a certain thrill in watching your images appear right before your eyes. It's like having a dream and then watching it materialize on paper."

It didn't take Cori long to realize she was uninspired by her Arizona surroundings. She wanted a change and needed the inspiration to continue her photography.

"I wanted to surround myself with beauty," she said. "So after about a year I moved to Portland. I was in paradise. It was like going from black and white to color. In Portland everything was alive – grass was actually green, I could see snow on the mountains. I started taking road trips with just a stack of CDs and my camera – sometimes with no destination in mind, just following the road. As long as I have my camera with me, it doesn't matter."


Content provider
Cori is enthusiastically pursuing photography and wants to get to a point where she's content with her work.

"I am a perfectionist to the core," she said. "Which is good in the sense that I'm always pushing myself to do better, but not so good in the sense that I find it difficult to enjoy what I have done.

"I would also love to walk into a restaurant or a bar or even someone's home and see my artwork displayed. The sight of it would probably frighten the hell out of me, but I know I'd feel proud that someone enjoyed it so much they wanted to put it on their wall.

"For others to understand where I'm coming from is really what I'm looking for."

E-mail Cori at cfocks@hotmail.com. Reach Kathy at kanderson138@attbi.com, and draw on other Sketch Pads.

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