Museum PR Announcements News and Information

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Presents Deep Impressions Willie Cole Works on Paper

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art presents Deep Impressions: Willie Cole Works on Paper. On view through May 8, 201.

Although best known as a sculptor, Willie Cole (b.1955) has created a series of works on paper that incorporate his characteristic subjects: ironing boards, hairdryers, and shoes, among other manufactured products. He manipulates and reproduces these objects, imbuing them with several levels of meaning that address personal as well as economic, racial, and political issues. For example, he uses irons—some of which he found and some that were given to him by his grandmother, who was a domestic worker—to scorch patterns into paper.

The resulting images, such as Man Spirit Mask, evoke African sculpture, scarification, and slave ships, while also referencing his family history. The sleek and elegant Satisfaction Guaranteed and Loyal and Dependable are based on photographs of vintage irons that he altered minimally. The visual similarities to ceremonial masks are more oblique, but the commercial references of the titles add a haunting layer of meaning.Some of the images are remarkable purely for their formal beauty. Pressed Iron Blossom No. 3 transforms scorch patterns into a giant flower, radiating the heat of summer sunshine. The abstract pattern in Rapture is composed of a riotous pattern of high heels, slyly conjuring up Imelda Marcos and her infamous collection of shoes.

The exhibition of 31 prints, drawings, and photographs provides an overview of the work of this internationally recognized, award-winning artist. For the Brooks Museum exhibition, Cole is creating an installation that includes his first experimentation with wallpaper design employing his signature iron imagery.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *