"True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist."
Albert Einstein

My Work

Most of my subject matter is nature-inspired, whether it is a botanical specimen, traditional landscape, or billowy clouds in the sky. My art translates the subject into whimsically mysterious, albeit, identifiable forms. I use encaustic materials (beeswax and damar resin), pigments, shellac and a propane torch to create art on birch panels. The ancient painting medium — encaustics — was first used by Greek artists as far back as the 5th century B.C. The medium seduces me to be experimental and playful. Fire and wax dance to my music— orchestrated and serendipitous. My goal is to inspire those who see my work to look more creatively at the world around them, to discover beauty reflected in ordinary and treasured places and things in the world we all share.

Biography

I was born in Brooklyn, NY where I was first introduced to, and fell in love with art at the Brooklyn Museum. My education and the career that followed focused, however, on the life sciences and medical research. An immunologist and medical educator who trained at New York University School of Medicine and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, I am currently Professor of Medicine and Cell Biology and Director of the Clinical and Translational Science Center at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, University of Health Sciences. Throughout my career in academic medicine, I have used much of my free time to experiment with diverse media to create art. My foray into beeswax as a medium began when I enrolled in an encaustic art workshop at the Katonah Art Museum, in Katonah, NY where I reside. The experience stimulated a new passion for an ancient art medium – beeswax. Wooden panels (I use fine-grained birch hardwood panels) and hand-made clay bowls, driftwood and other materials have become canvases for the molten wax I apply to these surfaces to create art that manifests from ideology rooted in experimentation and discovery. @Richard_Coico

More About My Journey 

Reading my Biography above, you might think I always knew where I was headed in my professional life. But becoming a scientist was not something I had in mind when I was in my formative years.  I flirted with the idea but never truly believed I had “the right stuff.” As a kid from Brooklyn, NY, with no role models to speak of, all I could dream of doing was limited by my fears of failure and the unknown.  That all changed when I discovered, as a college student, that the stars above were speaking to me and saying, “Just aim and don’t give up.”  In other words, focus on the goal and never abandon it.

I’ve been blessed to have a professional career as an immunologist that has given me the freedom to use creative thinking and fortitude to solve problems and contribute to my field.  I have been blessed to stand on the shoulders of giants to help me contribute.  The mentors I’ve had were all giants.  They all helped me find ways to put mysterious pieces of the puzzle (the immune system) in place to better understand how things work or sometimes fail to work causing disease.  I’ve had the great pleasure and honor to teach others what I’ve learned as a medical educator and to inspire a few to pursue careers in medical research. In addition, I have marveled at how those of us who study the immune system get to see images of immune cells published by peers — images that illustrate the art of immunology such as the one on the left above showing what is known as the "immune synapse" (the blue lymphocytes interacting with one another).

Beginning new journeys in life doesn't necessarily cause you to abandon ongoing journeys.  We can travel in parallel routes discovering, along the way, that they sometimes cross each other.  When that happens, our perspectives widen.



I’ve always loved art but never really made a serious commitment to take a deep dive and aim for something I could create that was personally satisfying and meaningful.  Then I discovered encaustics.  The learning process was a steep curve but once I was able to conquer the fear of failure, I found my way forward and continue to learn.  Along the way, and to this day, the one thing that gives me confidence as I continue my new journey in the art of encaustics is that I still hear the stars above telling me to aim and never give up. Aiming is all about perspective.  My scientific career has taught me to look at things from every possible three-dimensional angle and to know that there may even be other dimensions you haven’t considered.

I am still a practicing immunologist and medical educator and immunology textbook author, but today, I am proud to say that I’m also a ‘work in progress’ encaustic artist too. The meditative process of creating my art has deepened my appreciation and gratitude for all that life has given me.  Most importantly, the overall process of creating art has reminded me, again and again, that I am teachable.  There are countless giants in this world with shoulders that have plenty of room for people like me to stand on – to learn from.

                                                                              Richard Coico

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