Willie Cole: Transformations

June 5 - August 8, 2015
Opening Reception, Friday, June 5 | 6 - 8 p.m.

Willie Cole, among the most noted American artists of his generation, is recognized for his potent and poetic sculptures, compositions, and installations. Transforming everyday objects such as irons, shoes, bicycles, matches, and water bottles, Cole’s work powerfully alludes to social, cultural, political and spiritual meanings, also referencing the artist’s African-American culture, heritage, and history.

Willie Cole, Tricksters Among Us (Seen And Unseen)Willie Cole, "Tricksters Among Us (Seen And Unseen)," 2012; iron scorches and acrylic on wood; 40.5 x 51 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Beta Pictoris Gallery.

Showcasing over fifteen works created between 1996 and 2015, the exhibition investigates the artist’s transformation of everyday objects, ready-mades, and throwaways into works of multi-layered autobiographical, art-historical, and socio-political meaning. Featuring a selection of works drawn from Birmingham collections, the exhibition also includes the artist’s large-scale work Red Spirit Light, a suspended chandelier-like form comprised of red water bottles. Red Spirit Light evokes the psychological and spiritual force of light and the color red, while also commenting on our throwaway culture of ever-proliferating plastic discards.

In commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Willie Cole: Transformations also includes the artist’s two works Birmingham Rattle Snake and Civil Constrictor, comprised of painted text on vintage fire hoses, which refer to the history of civil rights struggles in Birmingham.

Willie Cole’s work is found in numerous public and private collections including the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY; as well as the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; the Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. amongst others.

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