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Willie Cole

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Information about Willie Cole

Profile image of Willie Cole

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Sculptor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange and Green
Favorite Food:
Sunflower Seeds
Favorite Time of Year:
Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
My Mind.
Favorite Quote:
It Doesn't Matter When You Get On The Bus, Just When You Get Off.

Birthplace

Born:
1/3/1955
Birth Location:
Somerville, New Jersey

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Sculptor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange and Green
Favorite Food:
Sunflower Seeds
Favorite Time of Year:
Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
My Mind.
Favorite Quote:
It Doesn't Matter When You Get On The Bus, Just When You Get Off.

Birthplace

Born:
1/3/1955
Birth Location:
Somerville
See how Willie Cole is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Sculptor Willie Cole was born on January 3, 1955 in Somerville, New Jersey. In 1958, he moved to Newark, New Jersey, where he took art classes at the Newark Museum, and later attended the Arts High School of Newark. Cole went on to receive his B.F.A degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, New York. He continued his art education by attending classes at the Art Students League of New York.

After graduation, Cole worked as a freelance artist and graphic designer. In 1988, he completed his first major art installation, Ten Thousand Mandellas. The installation led to his first major gallery show, which took place at Franklin Furnace Gallery in New York City, New York in 1989. The following year, Cole served as the artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. In 1997, Cole created the piece, Stowage, garnering him a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Cole had a number of solo exhibition shows that followed, including a show at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in 2001. In 2010, an exhibition show of his work took place at the James Gallery of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. In 2013, Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Work opened at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, before the exhibition began travelling across the country.

Cole has received many awards for his work as an artist, including the Penny McCall Foundation Grant in 1991, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant in 1995, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award in 1996, the David C. Driskell Prize in 2006, and Timehri Award for Leadership in the Arts in 2009. In 2004, Cole received the Lamar Dodd Fellowship at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. Cole served as an artist-in-residence at several institutions, including the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, Washington, the Contemporary in Baltimore, Maryland, the Capp Street Project in San Francisco, California, and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Cole has one son.

Willie Cole was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 3, 2017.

See how Willie Cole is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Willie Cole's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Willie Cole lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Willie Cole describes his father's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Willie Cole describes his father's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Willie Cole describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Willie Cole talks about his maternal great-grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Willie Cole describes how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Willie Cole remembers working at American Cyanamid Company
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Willie Cole describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Willie Cole describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Willie Cole remembers the Stella Wright Homes in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Willie Cole talks about his early interest in art
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Willie Cole talks about his early art forms
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Willie Cole describes his schooling in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Willie Cole remembers his home life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Willie Cole talks about his childhood friends
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Willie Cole remembers the riots of 1967 in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Willie Cole remembers Amiri Baraka's influence in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Willie Cole talks about the alumni of Arts High School in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Willie Cole describes his experiences at the School of Visual Arts in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Willie Cole talks about his early career as a graphic designer
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Willie Cole talks about his black magazine illustrations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Willie Cole talks about his interest in commercial art
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Willie Cole remembers the Art Students League of New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Willie Cole talks about his theater training
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Willie Cole remembers the Negro Ensemble Company
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Willie Cole talks about his role at the Stepping Stone Theatre Company
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Willie Cole talks about his decision to focus on the visual arts
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Willie Cole talks about the birth of his son
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Willie Cole remembers selling mail order pamphlets
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Willie Cole recalls his attempts to sell illustrated children's stories
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Willie Cole recalls his day jobs in New York City during the 1980s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Willie Cole talks about the Works Gallery in Newark, New Jersey
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Willie Cole remembers his first professional art shows
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Willie Cole talks about his residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Willie Cole describes the origins of his sculptural practice
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Willie Cole recalls his experiences at the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Willie Cole talks about becoming a single parent
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Willie Cole talks about the meanings of his steam iron sculptures
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Willie Cole recalls the start of his mask making practice
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Willie Cole recalls the impact of his residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Willie Cole talks about his sculpture, 'House and Field'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Willie Cole recalls the start of his shoe sculptures
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Willie Cole talks about his studio spaces
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Willie Cole describes his shoe sculptural practice
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Willie Cole talks about his spirituality
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Willie Cole describes his method for sculpting with shoes
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Willie Cole talks about his floral motif sculptures
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Willie Cole talks about the theme of his shoe sculptures
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Willie Cole talks about the influences on his mask sculptures
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Willie Cole recalls his awards and honors
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Willie Cole talks about his monumental woodcut, 'Stowage'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Willie Cole remembers Robert Blackburn
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Willie Cole talks about his piece, 'Man Spirit Mask'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Willie Cole remembers his artwork inspired by September 11th, 2001
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Willie Cole describes his work about President Donald John Trump
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Willie Cole remembers receiving the David C. Driskell Prize
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Willie Cole talks about his love of music
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Willie Cole talks about his art dealer and marketing
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Willie Cole recalls the start of his work with plastic water bottles
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Willie Cole talks about his plastic bottle sculptures
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Willie Cole talks about his animated character, ShooFly
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Willie Cole reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Willie Cole reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Willie Cole shares his advice for aspiring African American artists
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Willie Cole narrates his photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Willie Cole narrates his photographs, pt. 2