Conversationalist: Willie Cole

Willie Cole

Contemporary American sculptor, conceptual and visual artist

Altering perceptions of household objects, Willie ingeniously transforms steam irons, ironing boards, hairdryers, and high-heeled shoes into powerful sculptures, installations, and works on paper. Mining his own African-American heritage, Cole creates work that celebrates African art and culture. His eclectic work has been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art, The Miami Art Museum, Tampa Museum of Art, Montclair Art Museum, among many others. I was born the same year as Rock and Roll to a southern migrant worker and a Baptist preacher’s granddaughter. I grew up in the “hood” but spent every weekend in the suburbs with my grandmother. In the summers I fished with my great grandfather and worked on his chicken farm, killing and plucking. I attended Arts High School in Newark with a combined major of art and music and studied acting and playwriting (as a teen) at Rutgers University through Lyndon Johnson’s Model Cities (after school) Program. I attended Boston University only to return to NY a year later to attend the School of Visual Arts as a graphic design major. When the digital age was a baby, I got a job as a computer graphics artist. After 2 years I quit and devoted myself to fine art.

< See all Conversationalists

PBS Video: Willie Cole Artist

Website: Willie Cole