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