Gallery exhibit surveys the work of NJ artist Willie Cole

Gallery exhibit surveys the work of NJ artist Willie Cole

Rowan University Art Gallery exhibits the works on paper of New Jersey artist Willie Cole, January 16 - March 10.

Offering the first exhibit dedicated to surveying the works on paper of New Jersey-born, -raised and -based artist Willie Cole, Rowan University Art Gallery presents “Deep Impressions” from January 16 – March 10, 2012. An opening reception, featuring an exhibition overview by guest curator Patterson Sims, is on January 19 from 5:30 – 7 pm.

Spanning more than 30 years - from an intense pastel self-portrait (c. 1977) to recent graphic novel–like images, the exhibit demonstrates that Cole - best known for his sculpture - has found many ways, through his works on paper, to make deep cultural and personal impressions. The show also highlights the range of his prints, from a 1984 poster to a recent large-scale, technically innovative lattice-work piece.

Cole’s art contrasts the dichotomies of life in New Jersey, as well as those of the wider landscape of America: affluent suburbs and vast upscale malls exist alongside urban, industrial and natural wastelands and miles of marginal retail strips; abundant personal wealth is enjoyed in a land suffering from economic, racial and political discord and chronic poverty. Likewise, Cole posits his art between three dichotomies: the distinctive male and female personalities of his father and mother; the “field” and “house” slaves as defined by Malcolm X; and abstract aesthetics and political and cultural critique.

A Somerville native and one-time Newark and Maple Shade resident, the artist studied at the Boston University School of Fine Arts and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1976. Among his many honors is 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, Georgia. The artist’s work is found in numerous private and public collections and museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the Montclair Art Museum, the Newark Museum of Art and the New Jersey State Museum in New Jersey.

Born and raised near Philadelphia, curator Patterson Sims’ career has focused on the modern and contemporary field, with a specialty in American modernism and contemporary art. He has worked on projects with diverse foundations and museums, lecturing, writing, teaching, organizing exhibitions and consulting with private collectors. Sims has authored books on Ellsworth Kelly, Jan Matulka, Philip Pearlstein, the Whitney Museum collection and Willie Cole. He has served as Director of the Montclair Art Museum, as Deputy Director for Research Support at The Museum of Modern Art, Assistant Director for the O.K. Harris Gallery in SOHO; Associate Director for Art and Exhibitions and Curator of Modern Art at the Seattle Art Museum and the first curator of the Whitney Museum's collection of 20th century American art.

Admission is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 10 am to 5 pm (with extended hours on Wednesdays to 7 pm); and Saturday, 12 to 5 pm. For more information, call 856-256-4521 or visit Rowan University Art Gallery is located on the lower level of Westby Hall on the university campus, Route 322 in Glassboro, NJ.

This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Additional support for this exhibition has been provided by the College of Fine & Performing Arts and the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Rowan University.