Artist Willie Cole uses discarded everyday objects – such as irons, blow dryers and high-heeled shoes-to create iconic sculptures, installations and prints that present social, political or cultural perspectives of the urban African American experience. Cole's signature images are his iron-burn prints, which he began making in the late 1980s, where the scorches from a scalding iron are imbued with metaphorical meaning. Recent and upcoming exhibitions of Cole's work include: "Anxious Objects: Willie Cole's Favorite Brands," opening in March 2006 at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey; "Willie Cole: Sole to Soul," on view currently at Alexander and Bonin Gallery in New York; and "AFTERBURN, Willie Cole: Selected Works 1997-2004," on view at the University of Wyoming Art Museum in 2004.
Since 1986, Cole's work has been featured in over 60 exhibitions, and can be found in the permanent collections of such museums as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis, Minn., The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. In recognition of his work, Cole has been awarded the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Memorial Fellowship (in 2002), the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (in 1996), the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant (in 1995), and the Penny McCall Foundation Grant (in 1991). Cole was an artist-in-residence in the John Michael Kohler Arts Center Arts/Industry Program in Sheboygan, Wisc., in 2000.
Born in 1955, Cole received his Bachelor of Fine Art degree from The School of Visual Arts, New York, in 1976, and studied at The Art Students League, New York, from 1976 through 1979. Cole currently lives and works in Mine Hill, N.J.