Deep Impressions

Deep Impressions

RU Art Gallery first in S.J. to show acclaimed N.J. artist Willie Cole.
An exhibition by New Jersey artist Willie Cole, whose work often takes household objects like clothes irons and high-heeled shoes and transforms them into art – often with an African or African American theme – will be on display at the Rowan University Art Gallery in Westby Hall through March 10.

Cole, who grew up in Newark, is a celebrated artist whose work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and many others.

RU Art Gallery Director Mary Salvante said she seeks exhibitions by artists who are not only celebrated but who have a connection to the area.

“The gallery mission is to be a resource to the Rowan community for contemporary art and artwork by professional artists locally and globally,” Salvante said.

She said the gallery is the first public art space in South Jersey to host a Willie Cole exhibition.

The exhibition, a collection of prints, drawings and sculptures, spans 30 years and combines the artist's personal history with themes of urban and racial realities, culture, religion and diversity. Salvante believes the collection will prompt discussion across a multitude of planes – art, sociology, history, anthropology, multiculturalism, politics, and spiritualism.

In addition to the exhibition, Cole himself and curator Patterson Sims will speak at 3 p.m. Feb. 21 in Westby, Room 111. The discussion is sponsored in part by Rowan's Office of Multicultural Affairs in collaboration with the African American Studies program.

“It is not just the presentation of artwork, it’s how artwork can make connections between individuals that's important,” Salvante said. "Cole's work can conjure up feelings that contribute to conversations about diversity in a broader spectrum. It's very powerful stuff!”

The program was made possible in part by funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Willie Cole: Deep Impressions” may be seen in the Rowan University Art Gallery in Westby Hall through March 10. Admission to the Gallery is free. Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m. For more information, call (856) 256-4521 or email the Gallery.