Willie Cole: Deep Impressions

  • Willie Cole: Deep Impressions

Willie Cole: Deep Impressions

Willie Cole: Deep Impressions

January 16 - March 10, 2012

This exhibition and its accompanying booklet are the first to be dedicated to surveying the works on paper of the New Jersey born, raised, and based artist Willie Cole. Spanning more than thirty years, from an intense pastel self-portrait, ca. 1977, to recent foreboding, graphic novel–like images, and highlighting the rich range of his prints, from a poster he designed in 1984 to a recent large-scale, technically innovative lattice-work piece, the show demonstrates that this artist—best known for his sculpture—has found many ways with works on paper to make deep cultural and personal impressions.  

Born in 1955, Cole reached his artistic maturity in the mid-1980s with his labor-intensive assemblages of discarded American consumer products: hair dryers, high-heeled shoes, lawn jockeys, ironing boards, and, above all, steam irons, and their scorched or stenciled impressions. In his deft hands these banal salvaged objects were transformed into objects of beauty, balance, and spirituality

Cole has actively worked on paper since he started making art, at first simply responding to the medium’s ready accessibility and low cost. Beginning at ten years old, he took drawing classes. Drawing was a major part of his training in high school, where he recalls making his first prints, silk screened t-shirts, and at Boston University’s School of Fine Arts and the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League in New York City. Works on paper permit Cole to rapidly and spontaneously explore alternative compositions, colors, and points of view. His drawings have maintained a more traditional artistic approach; his works in sculpture and other media have been much more unconventional. Printmaking has offered him the chance to have others help him realize his ideas, create more communally, and reach out and have his work seen and owned by a wider public. Cole recently wrote: “I still feel new in printmaking. . . . More to explore. More to learn. It feels like a mixed-media approach. Once an image is printed, it can be painted on, attached to, folded, etc. . . . and I haven’t done any of that yet.”  

Patterson Sims
Guest Curator

Willie Cole: Deep Impressions Exhibition Catalog