Cole is known for his inventive transformations of found materials into uncanny sculptures that depict everything from domestic objects and animals to African artifacts and ante-bellum imagery, often rendered with humor and/or political references.
Willie Cole's exhibition of new work, titled Sole to Soul, opened at Alexander and Bonin on Saturday, January 7th, 2006.
During a 2004-05 residency at the University of Georgia, Athens, Willie Cole located a supply of several thousand pairs of high-heeled shoes which inspired him to return to the use of this particular found object. He uses the high-heeled shoe to tell an evolving story from beauty and sex to nature and tantric spirituality. The artist's interest in Buddhism has developed since the 1980's and for the work in this exhibition he has particularly referenced the mandalas and deities associated with Tibetan Buddhism.
In Sole to Soul, the shoes are formed into circles expressing the concept of lotus blossoms which die and flower again. The styles and colors of the shoes dictate the form; the blossoms range in diameter from 4 to 7 feet. In other works, referencing shrines, intertwining legs and arms surround some of the halos or auras.
With a Heart of Gold
Dirty Little Soles
Pretty in Pink
Made in the Philippines
What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!