Willie Cole: Neo-African sculpture with American plentyPosted: February 23, 2014
For the decade of the 1990s, Willie Cole (born 1955) was inspired principally by the archaic cast-iron steam iron. The Newark, New Jersey-born sculptor and conceptual artist created faux–anthropological research into The People of Iron a.k.a. The Cult of The Domestic. By the end of the decade he had chronicled their journey from slavery to freedom through sculpture, printmaking – and branding (with iron, that is). The elliptical association with the fact of American slavery cannot be missed by any viewer with historical intelligence. Cole’s shoe sculptures, and those with hair dryers, bicycle parts, kitchen chairs and so forth, are visually strong and metaphorically rich – and only an African-American sculptor could use materials in this way to create something fresh and “American” yet linked to the beauty of African “traditional” art.
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