Willie Cole: A Visiting Artist


“Anything is everything and everything is anything. I can make anything into anything…Everything inspires me, even you all inspire me right now.” -Willie Cole

Since August our school has been studying recycling, inspiration, and works of art created by New Jersey native Willie Cole. Our arts team, principal, partners with Columbia College and the University of Missouri have been working to bring this transforming artist to our school over the past few months. Today he greeted us in our auditorium and shared some of his work from across the States. Cole has found inspiration from the world around us and has spent his life’s work finding ways to manipulate everyday objects into sculptures, masks, prints, and even digital media presentations. 

Listening to Willie Cole speak about his inspiration process and how he creates his art was truly inspiring in itself. The fact that “anything is everything” is running through my head as a constant. The concept to grasp is that every little thing, whether it’s proven it’s worth to you or not, has some kind of purpose and “life of its own” to be lived. Cole believes he was an artist in a previous life. He says he’s been an artist for a very long time, 1,027 years even. He believes that every object has its own life and purpose. The way an object looks is how it was made and reflects that purpose. If a red satin high heel shoe has a striped sole and leather back,  then that’s the way it should be. When he creates these sculptures he doesn’t change the objects in any way other than by transforming them into something else. He doesn’t take paint or tools to his sculptures, he just plays with them until they fit together, how he sees them…how he wants to see them. Sometimes they need to be held together with string for extra security. If he wants his shoe sculpture to be larger than life, he recreates the shoes out of metal to withstand weathering. 

Willie Cole’s masterpieces can be found in various galleries and studios across the United States. Here at our local art museum we currently own eight of Cole’s masterpieces. It’s such an honor and a privilege to be able to bring such an inspiring and resourceful artist to our school as well as to our community. 

(Below are some pictures of Willie Cole’s sculptures that he shared during his morning presentation. These pictures were taken directly from Willie Cole’s website, http://www.williecole.com)

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