Willie Cole is best known for assembling and transforming ordinary domestic and everyday objects such as irons, ironing boards, water bottles, and high-heeled shoes into imaginative and powerful works of art and installations. Through the repetitive use of single objects in multiples, Cole’s assembled sculptures acquire a transcending, almost spiritual vibration, and a renewed metaphorical meaning that often become a critique of our consumer culture. Cole’s work is generally discussed in the context of postmodern eclecticism, combining references and appropriation ranging from African and African-American imagery, to Dada’s readymades and Surrealism’s transformed objects, and icons of American pop culture. During his childhood, Cole’s grandmother and great-grandmother worked as housekeepers and often asked him to fix their irons. For Cole, common household appliances have a number of rich connotations, and in his past work, iron patterns have recalled African tribal markings and shields; ironing boards have represented slave ships. Cole’s Virgin of Enlightenment was created in an edition of nine screenprints in collaboration with Highpoint Center for Printmaking.
Value: $4,700 (print $3,500; frame $1,200)
Donated by: Highpoint Editions; framing services donated by Artserve