The Mission of Willie Cole’s Black Art Matters initiative is to advocate for Black Artists, 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. Learn more and donate at wellsbringhope.org.
Willie Cole’s art is in the permanent collection of major museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; The Museum of Modern Art, NYC; The Newark Museum of Art, Newark and the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia.
Since 1988, Willie Cole has repeatedly returned to the iron to conjure multiple meanings and associations. His technique consists of scorching a raw canvas with a steam iron until the surface starts to burn. The iron imagery suggests domestic labor and traditional femininity, perhaps honoring his mother’s and grandmother’s work as housekeepers. The scorched marks also speak to painful aspects of African American history. The hull-like shape recalls images of slave ships packed tightly with human cargo, and the burnt surface suggests the way slave owners sometimes branded the enslaved.