Willie Cole

USA (1955). Lives and works in New Jersey.

From Water to Light, 2013
Installation Variable dimensions
Produced by: BIACI

African American sculptor and conceptual artist, Willie Cole uses recycled material to assemble imaginative installations that powerfully depict social, political, and cultural issues that affect the modern world. Concerned with and committed to the environment, Cole deals with the scarcity of water in this piece. Using commercial water bottles, Cole invites us to reflect on the importance of this basic resource in From Water to Light. Through the monotonous litany the bottles take on a clear critical symbolism as one of the world’s most abundant disposable products. At the same time, the incessant repetition of the object is related to the connection between the thousands of people that have used it or interacted with it. In the case of bottles, Cole is drawing our attention to the breath that flows into the receptacle, a breath that represents the human spirit.

Through the repetition of a single object in multiple series, Cole transforms the meaning of the objects, investing them with metaphorical properties that become a compelling means of criticism. His work constantly references African and African American culture, as well as Asian and pop culture. He frequently incorporates an interactive element, seeking to physically involve the spectator and claim his attention for the proposed topic, allowing the artistic act to transcend and become something useful for society and nature.