On Saturday April 13th, world-renowned Contemporary Artist Willie Cole returned home to Newark at the new Prospect Street Firestation Gallery in the Ironbound section of Newark. Presented by Sumei Multidisciplinary Arts Center, the Firestation is becoming the Ironbound premier destination for art.
The new installation by Willie Cole, entitled “FROM WATER TO LIGHT”, redefines recycling as reincarnation by repurposing over 10,000 recycled water bottles into a spirit filled environment intended to honor the earth. The exhibition is spaces constructed entirely out of water bottles in which hang Cole’s calls upcycled chandeliers. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to donate their own recyclable water bottles to the gallery as a show of support for upcycling, art, and love of the Earth.
Mr. Cole’s art is increasing significance. His training and understanding of African Arts, traditionally religious images known as tribal art, is reflected in his art, made from everyday assembling and transforming ordinary domestic and used objects into imaginative and powerful works of art and installations. He uses materials such as: irons, ironing boards, high-heeled shoes, hair dryers, bicycle parts, wooden matches, lawn jockeys, and other discarded appliances and hardware. His art is also reflective of African Art throughout the diaspora, within developing countries that used recycled material and medium to create important art. His current installation continues this tradition, creating beautiful arts with everyday, disposable plastic water bottles, recycling them into something new.
The walls made of bottles create a unique drapery of transparent walls, which creates space but allows the audience to discover the art through the spaces and around the walls. There are two rooms made of bottles, each containing a water bottle chandelier. The first chandelier features pink and brown Buddha, a homage to spirituality. The other chandelier reflect traditional eminence and essence of light. Other features arranged includes a group of bottle bottoms that gives a floral and natural embroidery patterns imagery, outside of the two rooms.
Through the repetitive use of single objects in multiples, Cole’s assembled sculptures acquire a transcending and renewed metaphorical meaning, or become a critique of our consumer culture. Cole’s work is generally discussed in the context of postmodern eclecticism, combining references and appropriation ranging from African and African-American imagery, to Dada’s ready-mades and Surrealism’s transformed objects, and icons of American pop culture or African and Asian masks, into highly original and witty assemblages. As a creative sprit rarely known, Willie Cole is also a classical guitarist, as all creatives, he continues to grow with new mediums including music.
Mr. Cole is a significant world acclaimed artist from Newark. Metropolitan Museum of Art MOMA, Newark Museum of Art, Montclair Art Museum, and most major City museums and galleries throughout the county and the world hold his work. Willie Cole is the recipient of many awards, including the 2006 Winner of the 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. For his upcycling installation, for use of recycled materials, he received the Morris County Recycling Commission Award.
The exhibition at the firehouse gallery will be on display now through June, at 56 Prospect Street.