Willie Cole cites the transformative power of everyday objects through his work: high-heels, irons and ironing boards, and bicycle parts are reformed as figurative statuary, referencing traditional African art. This new work on paper made especially for ICI in 2016, continues the series Hot Bodies, in which Cole has composed figures in formal stances through the use of scorch marks made with a hot iron. This powerful portrait is charged with the intensity of the mark-making process and its reference to burning and branding.
Willie Cole lives and works in New Jersey. He has been included in institutional exhibitions internationally, including Reconfiguring an African Icon: Odes to the Mask by Modern and Contemporary Artists from Three Continents (2011) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; with numerous others at institutions such as The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York and the Perez Art Museum, Miami.
Willie Cole is represented by Alexander & Bonin, New York.
Please note: After bidding closes on Artsy, bids on this piece will be transferred and executed at the live auction component of the ICI Annual Benefit & Auction on the evening of October 26, 2016.
Image rights: Courtesy of the artist
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