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Artist: Willie Cole


Willie Cole



Institution Walker Art Center
"When I was in high school in the '60s, black awareness was very big in the cities, including Newark, where I lived. There were a lot of cultural centers in Newark focusing on black culture. As a result of that environment, in high-school art class we began to study African art, sculpture, and dance. That continued when I went to the School of Visual Arts in New York, and led me to the study of Yoruba culture. Also, my best friend in the '80s was an art dealer who sold African art. The environment that developed in black communities across America after the '60s included African religion. It was not uncommon to experience African culture in a direct way by attending African religious ceremonies. It has affected my work in that my whole approach to sculpture comes from my being rather than my education."

"In 1989, I began to think that people worshiped objects. If you see a picture or an advertisement of something you want, then you begin to desire it. And you desire it so much that when you obtain it, your desire turns to worship. In other cultures, their use of the object and their dependence on it is a ritual action and is evidence of their worship."
--Willie Cole, 2001

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Type: artist statement
Source: Willie Cole on Stowage (1997), from the website Global Positioning: Exploring Contemporary World Art, 2003.
Rights: Copyright 2003 Walker Art Center
Added to Site: March 1, 2009