In ‘No Strings,’ Willie Cole Transforms Instruments into Abstract Animals and Figurative Sculptures

Artist Willie ColeHe is known for making sculptures from discarded materials with an interrogative tone. His three-dimensional work is dominated by found objects such as high-heelsHe transforms plastic bottles, ironing boards, and other items into cultural commentary pieces that address issues such as identity, history, mass production, and historical legacies. The items tend to guide the formation of his assemblages, he says, sharing that, “the objects that I use I see as them finding me, more so than me finding them… I see an object and suddenly I recognize what I can do with the object. In this sense, the object has an energy or spirit connection. I am exploring the possibilities of these objects.”

Cole’s solo show No stringsThis April, the inauguration of the, will take place in Alexander and BoninThis approach is demonstrated in New York. The artist, who’s currently living and working in New Jersey, recovered guitars, saxophones, and pianos from Yamaha’s recycling program and through his usual alchemy, has created anthropomorphic creatures and abstracted figures from their parts: he converts hammers into tail feathers and spliced acoustic bodies into dogs and anonymous musicians. The pieces are expressive and tied to the endurance of America’s past, particularly drawing a connection between the guitar’s shape and the yokes forced on people who were enslaved.

Additionally, the future No strings show, you can see a few of Cole’s sculptures in the ongoing Before Yesterday, We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period roomat The MetVisit his website to see more of his work. his siteAnd Instagram.

“Yamaha Dog 1” (2021), Yamaha 3/4 size acoustic guitar parts, 23 1/2 x 12 x 29 inches. Joy Whalen. Photo

“Two-Faced Blues” (2021), Yamaha acoustic-electric guitar parts, 23 x 29 x 15 1/2 inches. Joy Whalen. Photo

“Yamaha Dog 2” (2021), Yamaha 3/4 size acoustic guitar parts, 18 5/8 x 11 x 27 inches. Joy Whalen.

“Picker” (2022), Yamaha 3/4 size acoustic guitar parts, 27 x 15 x 15 inches. Joy Whalen. Photo

“Joy” (2021), Yamaha 3/4 size acoustic guitar parts, 44 1/2 x 22 x 7 1/2 inches. Photo by Joerg Löhse

“Strummer” (2022), Yamaha 3/4 size acoustic guitar parts, 28 x 16 1/2 x 15 inches. Joy Whalen. Photo

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