October 1, 5 pm
Artist Talk: Willie Cole
Willie Cole (American, born 1955) is best known for assembling and transforming ordinary domestic and used objects such as irons, ironing boards, high-heeled shoes, hair dryers, bicycle parts, and recycled plastic water bottles into imaginative and powerful works of art. Through the repetition and compounding of single objects to form his sculptures and site-specific installations, Cole imbues in them new and transcendent metaphorical meaning, often embodying a critique of Western society’s consumer culture.
His appropriation of the steam iron as a symbolic, expressive object brought Cole early attention during the 1980s; and that common household appliance continues to be a widely recurring motif in his work. His singular approach of imprinting or scorching the steam iron’s familiar pattern on a variety of materials reveals diverse decorative possibilities while referencing on multiple levels his African American heritage. The iron at once brings to mind antebellum slave owners’ branding of their human “property” and the appliance’s use in the 20th century by domestic workers.
Indelible Impressions includes a selection of Cole’s paintings, photographs, prints and other works on paper, along with recent unique and limited edition sculptures. His art is represented in numerous private and public collections and museums, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.