Willie Cole (born in 1955, in Newark, New Jersey) is a contemporary American visual artist. Cole's work appropriates and combines imagery from American and African Popular Culture, and references sources including Surrealism, Dadaism, Asian and African Masks and culture.
Beginning in 1989, Cole has garnered the attention of the art world with the motif of a steam iron used to brand wood or cloth. The resulting scorch marks reference the capture, transportation, and branding of enslaved Africans, and the domestic roles of black women. The art collection at the Chrysler Museum of Art includes two untitled works by Willie Cole that utilize his steam iron scorch marks.
Willie Cole created the "Black Art Matters" line in the Summer of 2020, to advocate for Black Artists. In the words of the artist, "bringing Black Art up-close and up-front to cultural destinations around the world. Black Art Matters is Black Imagination at Work for a Better World."
10% of the proceeds from the sale of Willie Cole’s Black Art Matters merchandise is donated to Wells Bring Hope, whose mission is saving lives with safe water. Wells Bring Hope drills wells to bring safe water and sanitation to the people of Niger, the poorest nation in the world.