Nationally recognized artist Willie Cole will deliver the Alfred Heber Holbrook Lecture at the Georgia Museum of Art April 13 at 5:30 p.m. Open free to the public, the lecture is sponsored by the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art. It will be followed by a reception.
“In this day and age, when the arts and humanities seem to be shunted aside, under attack and definitely underfunded, the Alfred H. Holbrook Lecture is more important than ever in introducing artists, art historians, critics and especially ideas to our audiences,” said William Underwood Eiland, the museum’s director. “We are fortunate this year to have Willie Cole as our speaker, not only because of his artistry but also because his works make us think.”
Cole has received awards from Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art, the David C. Driskell Prize from the High Museum of Art and the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Memorial Fellowship. He held the Lamar Dodd Fellowship at the UGA Lamar Dodd School of Art in 2005. Cole is known for assembling sculptures from common domestic objects to create a larger metaphorical and symbolic meaning. For example, his untitled work on display in the museum’s exhibition Expanding Tradition: Selections from the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Collection (on view through May 7) resembles a chicken but is made entirely of women’s shoes held together with galvanized wire.
“Willie Cole is one of the most creative and original artists working today,” said Curlee Raven Holton, director of the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, which organized a traveling exhibition of Cole’s work last fall. “His iconic archetypal images penetrate our consciousness to connect to a primal source in each of us. He is masterful in how he can take a common object like well-worn shoes and resurrect from them a new spirit and meaning. He refashions impoverished objects from our world of the discarded and disowned with a self-assured agency of transformation to assert his own vision of art and beauty.”
Cole will speak about the creative practice as spiritual pursuit, focusing on the links he makes among the visual arts, music, history, world religion and the environment.
The Holbrook Lecture honors the founder and first director of the Georgia Museum of Art. Holbrook founded the museum with a collection of 100 American paintings in honor of his wife Eva Underhill Holbrook and served as director emeritus until he was nearly 100 years old. Scholars including Adrienne Childs, Francis Naumann and Alexander Nemerov have delivered previous Holbrook Lectures.