A native of Manito, Shannon Cox came to Pekin when she married her husband Brian, a city firefighter. For most of her adult life, she worked in the field of healthcare, before her photography grew into something more than a hobby. “It turned into a little bit of a small business,” she explains. “I ended up renting a studio downtown at the Speakeasy [Art Center]. And that’s how I got involved and started meeting artists.”
Today, Cox serves as managing director of The Mansion on Walnut, a venue for special events, and executive director of Pekin Academy of Fine Arts, an organization she founded two years ago. Recognizing the economic, social and cultural benefits of the arts, she has been a foremost advocate for creativity and innovation in Pekin, collaborating with artists, businesses, city government and other organizations to connect her community—especially young people—to the arts.
“I want to make sure that kids are getting exposed to [the arts] now instead of later,” she adds. “I didn’t get that exposure so much when I was in school.”
- Person who has had the greatest impact on my life: My husband Brian has always supported me and my adventures. He has been right beside me through all the ups and downs. I’m blessed to have him.
- My favorite journey: Brian and I go on many journeys! Sometimes we just drive until we find a great antique shop or some beautiful scenery in the country. Wherever we end up, it’s always great if we are together.
- When and where are you happiest? I was happiest and most content on our recent trip to Sedona, Arizona. It was a beautiful and relaxing experience. Sometimes you have to slow down and take in the beauty of our earth.
- Which talent would you like to have? I’d love to be a watercolor artist. Watercolor is my favorite medium.
- What would you consider your greatest achievement? Founding the Pekin Academy of Fine Arts has been one of my biggest accomplishments. With the support of a lot of great people and organizations, the nonprofit has been able to inspire many students to create and embrace art in our community. This makes my heart full.
- What is something that always brings a smile to your face? I’m at my happiest when my whole family is together in the same house, especially my grandchildren, Rachel and Jeremy.
- At what time are you most productive? I tend to be a night owl, and I’m most creative and productive in the evening hours. Sometimes my eyes open in the middle of the night with a great thought or idea.
- What is your motto? “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” —John Lennon
- What would you say to your 20-year-old self? Follow your intuition and don’t worry so much.
- What is one word to describe yourself? Genuine. a&s