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   from the issue of September 14, 2006

Cole's 'Anxious Objects' hang at the Sheldon

With the exhibition "Anxious Objects: Willie Cole's Favorite Brands," New Jersey artist Willie Cole brings an interpretation of urban American culture and a revealing glimpse into his identity to the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery this fall.

COLE MASK - This Willie Cole sculpture, made exclusively from blow dryers, is
COLE MASK - This Willie Cole sculpture, made exclusively from blow dryers, is "Wind Mask East." It is in the "Anxious Objects" exhibition. Courtesy image.

Growing up as an African American in poverty, Cole collected castoff items from an affluent society on Newark streets - hair dryers, irons, metal scraps, and shoes. In "Anxious Objects" thrown-away goods have become a medium and message in the artist's assemblages that make both social and artistic statements to viewers.

Organized by Patterson Sims, director of the Montclair Art Museum, "Anxious Objects" opens Sept. 16 at Sheldon and continues through Dec. 17. Cole will speak about his work in Sheldon's Ethel S. Abbott Auditorium at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 19. A panel discussion on Cole's art will be held in the auditorium on at 5 p.m. Oct. 24. Both events are free and open to the public.

The exhibition is part of Sheldon's "Forming American Identities" initiative, which examines how artists express their identities and share formative influences - cultures, gender, places and experiences - within their work.

Cole's art reflects the urban dichotomies of modern America: a vast consumer culture fueled by economic wealth showcased in glittering malls, and in sharp contrast, the industrial wastelands, poverty and ethnic racial and political discord. While Cole's urban and African-American heritages have remained primary influences, his artwork has become increasingly multicultural and universal.

Additional information is available online at



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