Willie Cole

American, b. 1955

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Willie Cole

American, b. 1955

233
Followers
Biography

A self-described “contemporary artist, perceptual engineer, ecological mechanic, transformer,” Willie Cole has been altering perceptions of household objects since the 1990s. He ingeniously transforms steam irons, ironing boards, hairdryers, and high-heeled shoes into powerful sculptures, installations, and works on paper. Mining his own African-American heritage, Cole creates work that celebrates African art and culture and confronts viewers with the painful history of slavery in America. He has concocted African masks out of high heels, sculptures of African fauna out of kitchen chairs, and slave ships out of iron marks. Guided by these objects, Cole uncovers the ramifications of their use, as he explains: “The objects have a memory and history of their own. So if you have a slave, or just a domestic worker, people working for little money, their objects have a memory of that experience.”

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Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Established
Established representation
Represented by industry leading galleries.
User
Solo show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 3 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 1 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 2 more
Biography

A self-described “contemporary artist, perceptual engineer, ecological mechanic, transformer,” Willie Cole has been altering perceptions of household objects since the 1990s. He ingeniously transforms steam irons, ironing boards, hairdryers, and high-heeled shoes into powerful sculptures, installations, and works on paper. Mining his own African-American heritage, Cole creates work that celebrates African art and culture and confronts viewers with the painful history of slavery in America. He has concocted African masks out of high heels, sculptures of African fauna out of kitchen chairs, and slave ships out of iron marks. Guided by these objects, Cole uncovers the ramifications of their use, as he explains: “The objects have a memory and history of their own. So if you have a slave, or just a domestic worker, people working for little money, their objects have a memory of that experience.”

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Established
Established representation
Represented by industry leading galleries.
User
Solo show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 3 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 1 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 2 more
Shows Featuring Willie Cole