Willie Cole American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 508

In his sculptures and installations, Cole gives discarded objects new life. Here, he connects seemingly fragmented and separate histories - of conquest and land appropriation, enslavement, diaspora, migration, joy, and pain. Transforming high-heeled leather shoes into an object inspired by nineteenth-century masks from Cameroon, Cole perceives the "soul/sole" memories that remain in the shoes: the places numerous unknown wearers have walked, along with their skin cells, sweat, and very essence. In doing so, he suggests how woven together American lives truly are and reminds us how these histories impact our present moment and future in complex ways that we can fail to recognize if we do not take time to notice.

Shine, Willie Cole (American, born Newark, New Jersey, 1955), Shoes, steel wire, monofilament line, washers, and screws

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