Willie Cole, ‘Double the Heat’, 2012, Tamarind Institute

Publisher: Tamarind Institute

About Willie Cole

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.”

American, b. 1955, Somerville, New Jersey, based in Somerville, New Jersey

Solo Shows on Artsy

Five Beauties Rising: New Prints by Willie Cole, Highpoint Editions, Minneapolis

Group Shows on Artsy

Surrealism: The Conjured Life, MCA Chicago, Chicago
Afro: Black Identity in America and Brazil, Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque