In the hands of Rox Corbett, charcoal turns plain white paper into a Western tableau rich with texture and emotion. The grain of leather, the feel of a soft muzzle, and the meaningful expression of a mare watching her foal are all communicated in Corbett’s works.
From a young age, she was enamored with nature and animals, and shared her childhood homes in Connecticut and Ontario, Canada, with everything from cats and rabbits to foxes and skunks.
In 1991, an artist residency at the Ucross Foundation in Northern Wyoming brought her out West, where she fell in love with the state and ranching community.
“I got to know the local ranchers, and they were so welcoming,” she says. “I started going to brandings and helping with cattle and sheep. I finished my residency then went to work on a local ranch.
“Once I started hanging out with the cowboys and ranchers, I started drawing scenes from their life and I was hooked.”
Decades later, Corbett still calls Wyoming home.
Although she admires the people of the West—“They always get the job done and do the job right!”—it’s the animals of the West, both ranch stock and wild, that she truly treasures.
“I can’t admire the horse any more than I possibly do,” she says. “The things horses do for us is incredible, and the relationship between working horses and their humans is really interesting to me. It’s important for me to capture that relationship in my work. And their physical beauty is just … wow!”
In her artist’s statement, Corbett explains that her goal is to create an emotional connection between the subjects and the viewer, portraying the soul, spirit, and expressions of the animals she draws, whether domestic or wild.
One of Corbett’s favorite pieces is “My Girl,” pictured above. She says, “I managed to include all the elements important to me: texture, unusual cropping, and what’s going on in the animal’s mind. The message is clear: the foal is so curious and the mom is obviously saying, ‘keep away, she’s my girl.’”
“My Girl” was the first place winner in the Two-Dimensional Paper category at the 2015 Cowgirl Up! art show, a female-artist-only show held in March at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, Ariz.
“It’s my favorite show to go to,” says Corbett. “The camaraderie is there, we all support each other. Women are underrepresented in Western art, and this show gives us a forum. It’s becoming better and better—women artists are bold about exploring the West in contemporary and unexpected ways.”
See more of Rox Corbett’s art at RoxCorbettArt.com.