Selected Works with Artist's Statement


Half and Half

Kevin Cole, Dreams That Merge (For Martin, Malcolm, and Mandela), 1996
Ink wash and charcoal on paper, 48" x 46"

When I turned eighteen years old, my grandfather stressed the importance of voting by taking me to a tree where he was told that African-Americans were lynched by their neckties on their way to vote.  The experience left a profound impression in my mind.
 - Kevin E. Cole, 1990

Since 1992, my work has evolved from the use of the necktie as an icon, motif, and symbol of power.  I have emphasized the relationship between color and music, particularly jazz, blues, rap, and gospel music because of its strong presence in the African-American community.  The works incorporate patterns and textures from traditional African cloths such as the Kente and Adinkra cloths, cloths that speak to human conditions and behaviors.

Throughout all of my work, I continue to investigate the existence of polyrhythmic space and overlapping planes, the raw emotional power of color and texture. This ink wash & charcoal drawing entitled Dreams that Merge (For Martin, Malcolm and Mandela) is a part of a series entitled the Color of Music; works which explores the relationship with color and music. This particular piece was inspired by the rap group Public Enemy off the Fight the Power CD. Several of the songs mention the number 8 which is symbolic to a new beginning. There are eight ties that curve and bend for me they are about roads we travel. The three ends of the ties are facing are different direction with symbols from the Adrinkra cloth meaning Hope, Strength & Determination. These issues all three men were inspired by.

Mary Lovelace O'Neal, Prophet with No Tongue...A.K.A. City Lights, 1988
Offset lithograph, 27.75" x 32.25"

The most important element of my existence as an artist is to MAKE. The visual manifestation is profound because I can continue to develop these expressions whether they are visually located in theories about modern movements or the unshakable wraps of the past. My work is my way of freeing myself; and my way of maximizing that freedom.

I Failed Religion
Brushed Nickel is So Elegant 2

Frank Smith, Improvisation from a Patchwork Quilt, 1996
Mixed media and acrylic, 29" x 22.75"

When asked to comment on my work and/or my engagement with abstraction, invariably I am reminded of a statement the artist Ed Love once made to me. “Talking about our work is probably the weakest thing we do.”

Starting from that sobering and humbling observation, and ascending to a definition of abstract relations, the most meaningful and concise workable definition I utilize is found in Donis A. Dondis book, A Primer of Visual Literacy, “abstraction….a visual event reduced to the basic elemental visual components….and overlapping with representation and symbolization…which can be distinguished from each other…they can be analyzed both as to their message – making and their quality in the process of seeing.”

Improvisation from a Patchwork Quilt is one of a series of works that utilizes the combining of found items by appliqué, assemblage, collage, crochet, embroidery, painting, quilting, and sewing. By deconstructing and reassembling, the work arrives at new associations and altered meanings.

Abstract Relations occur spontaneously in my work as my education and practice of act is essentially improvisational. My intent is to arrive at a visual equivalent of Jazz dance, literature, and music by improvising with the content, form, and materials.

Alvin Loving, Millenia #2, 2001
Rag paper collage on wooden frame, 52.5" x 55.5"

This series of paintings, "Millenia", represents an encyclopedia of ideas that I have been exploring in my art over the last thirty years. Through these years my paintings have grown ever more preoccupied with shape and color. Starting in1996, I have been working with the cube in new ways from thirty years ago when I painted in the tradition of the brush. Now with this new series I am returning to the rectalinear. It is one further step in my contribution to the invention of painting. Painting has moved away from the formal skills to a moment of invention.

These new paintings illustrate aspects of what I believe were the two seminal shifts in western art that happened in the last thousand years. The first change occured during the Renaissance. Before the Renaissance, western art was iconographic. With the Renaissance, painters such as Giotto, painted a three-dimensional image on a two-dimensional ground. It was a different way of seeing. The next big change in seeing and in the making of western art came with modernism. By modernism I mean Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso and Beardon. Their art was flat and on the picture plane. Passion and feelings became real. The subject matter became less important than the art itself.

My paintings are about these issues, and they have always been about these issues. I use the spiral as a political icon--- a wish for life and continued growth for all people. My tools are window wiper blades, Golden's Clear Tar Gel, Saunder's 300lb rag paper, Jade glue and Golden's Liquid Acrylic Paint.

Abstraction allows my paintings to speak directly to the art. My paintings are feelings and wishes. They are the embodiment of all I am and all that I have experienced.

Rice is the Main Dish
Brushed Nickel is So Elegant 2

Alonzo Davis, Brandywine Bamboo, 2001
Offset lithograph, serigraph, collage, 28" x 20"

Brandywine Bamboo evolved from two earlier series- woven paper paintings and the bamboo poles. While the offset lithograph has rich color, the addition of the bamboo plant silk-screened onto the print in the last run, gave the work its own life. Three- dimensional elements include a single-burn-marked bamboo cane affixed at the bottom of the print and a clear glass circular form inlaid with silver wire, which calls attention the printed sphere in the center. A world stamp was strategically placed above the bamboo. My goal is to give a sense of ethnic derivation and universality drawn from travels and people whose works and life styles captivate and stimulate my creative energy and reflects my culture.

Thanks, to the Brandywine Workshop, the Knight Foundation, and the faculty Development Grant from Memphis College of Art for making this print possible.




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