Five Beauties Rising

Various artists/makers

Not on view

To create Five Beauties Rising, Cole scratched, dented, and hammered vintage ironing boards, which he then inked and ran through an etching press. The process revealed the shapes of structures that are normally hidden, like struts, along with impressions of the boards’ outlines and scars. The size, vertical orientation, and arched forms evoke windows from Gothic cathedrals, reliquaries, tombstones, slave ships, shields, and X-rays. At the bottom of each work is a woman’s name printed in relief. These titles refer to Cole’s ancestors who were domestic workers, as well as to the town of Savannah, Georgia, where many of the women were born. When viewed in connection with the names, the impressions of the boards take on a personal connection, acting as an homage to these women and others whose labor remains largely unacknowledged.

Five Beauties Rising, Willie Cole (American, born Newark, New Jersey, 1955), Suite of five prints; intaglio and relief

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