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Art show reflects determination of stroke victim

Feb. 5, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Paintings by a man who suffered a debilitating stroke 20 years ago are on display this month at Western Michigan University's College of Health and Human Services on WMU's Oakland Drive campus.

The paintings, created by Kalamazoo resident Jeff Cox, are on exhibit throughout February in the building's second floor art gallery. A free public reception to honor Cox and his work will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22. Refreshments will be served, and free parking is available in Lot 104 adjacent to the building.

Health and Human Services Building
Gallery hours

  • Monday through Thursday: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday: closed

In 1989, at age 35, Cox suffered a stroke after his morning run that left him unable to speak, read or walk. Applying his characteristic discipline and determination to his recovery--and with the help of dedicated health care professionals--he got back on his feet and back to painting, a life-long interest.

Cox grew up in a Kansas City, Mo., suburb and was inspired to paint by an artist in his neighborhood. He studied drawing and painting as a teen, but eventually focused on his interest in science and earned a doctoral degree in physiologic chemistry at Ohio State University. He then worked as a research scientist, first in Missouri and then in Kalamazoo at the former Upjohn Company. In 1989, he left Kalamazoo with his family for the San Francisco area, where he conducted a research program at Genentech, Inc., a major biotechnology company.

Throughout this time, Cox painted occasionally and also excelled as a runner, competing in 10-K races and marathons. After his stroke, the disciplined runner and researcher committed fully to the physical, occupational and speech therapy that helped him regain much independence. He still cannot run and struggles with speaking, but he can paint.

Cox returned to Kalamazoo in the early 1990's and met WMU alumna and occupational therapist Margy Hunter. With her help, he regained the ability to paint, this time with his left hand. Cox and his wife have since collaborated on two murals in the Parkview Hills Willow Lake Club.

Cox continues to study painting at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and show his work now and then. His art is a reflection of his love of nature and the joy of his unique form of communication. He has painted many scenes from photographs he takes at Parkview Hills, where he lives with his wife.

For more information, contact Gay Walker, coordinator for the college's Holistic Health Care Program, at (269) 387-3839 or gay.walker@wmich.edu.

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Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400