One man’s trash is another man’s treasure at the Willie Cole: On Site Exhibit

Contemporary art took University of Maryland’s campus by storm featuring world-renowned artist Willie Cole at the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland.

Every semester, the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora organizes an artist to display his or her work on campus. The Willie Cole: On Site exhibit opened on Sept. 22 and will run until Nov. 18.

Winner of the 2006 David C. Driskell prize, Cole is honored for his continuous innovative and creative contributions to the African-American art industry. A native of Newark, New Jersey, Cole received his bachelor’s degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Cole’s work can be found far beyond the bounds of College Park, including in famous collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The Willie Cole: On Site exhibition focuses on the use of three main everyday materials: found wood, used shoes and recycled water bottles. The water bottles and shoes are objects Cole uses as a representation of recreating objects that humans discard.

Before entering the gallery, Cole created a recycled water bottle wishing wall where visitors can interact with his collection by writing down a wish, placing it in a provided water bottle and hanging it from the “Driskell Wishing Wall,” featured below.

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The motive behind this interactive sculpture is to bring awareness to repurposing essential objects in everyday life.

“This exhibit really surprised me,” said senior Kayla Lopez. “Not only is his work really intriguing, but the messages behind his art are inspiring.”

Cole features 19 three-dimensional artworks in his collection that he created over the past 10 years. The highlight of the collection is the enormous chandelier made from 5,000 recycled plastic water bottles.

“This is definitely one of the more creative collections,” said student and employee at the David. C Driskell gallery, Chioma Agbaraji. “He creates form out of another form.”

After its exhibition at UMD, the Willie Cole: On Site collection will begin its nationwide tour starting at the Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania opening April 7, 2017.

The Driskell Center Gallery’s hours are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with extended hours on Wednesday until 6 p.m.

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