'Complex Conversations' coming to Monroe-Brown Gallery

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Photo of Willie Cole's creation, "Domestic Shield."

"Domestic Shield," Willie Cole

KALAMAZOO—Artist Willie Cole's installation "Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Works" will be on display through Friday, Feb. 15, at Western Michigan University's Richmond Center for Visual Arts. The exhibit will open in the Monroe-Brown Gallery Thursday, Jan. 10.


Cole's work draws from traditional African art to create contemporary works in many media; he is best known for his found-object sculptures, prints and photographs. Cole’s art often transforms everyday mass-produced objects into precious icons or symbolic representations that explore ideas of diversity, identity and commercialization. Cole grew up in post-industrial Newark, N.J., and sees himself as an “urban archaeologist."  

Willie Cole

Willie Cole attended the Boston University School of Fine Arts, received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Visual Arts in New York in 1976 and continued his studies at the Art Students League of New York from 1976-79.

Cole is the recipient of many awards, including the 2006 David C. Driskell Prize, the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African-American art and art history established by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Other exhibitions include “Deep Impressions: Willie Cole Works on Paper” at the Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis; "Post Black and Blue” at Alexander and Bonin Gallery in New York; and a retrospective traveling exhibition “Anxious Objects: Willie Cole's Favorite Brands,” which has been presented at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Frye Art Museum and the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Gallery hours

The Monroe-Brown Gallery gallery is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, contact Don Desmett at donald.desmett@wmich.edu or (269) 387-2455.