Patterson Sims (Curator for Willie Cole)
Patterson Sims is an independent curator and has been for many years. His most recent work has been for the Exhibition of “Complex Conversations” by Willie Cole. When listening to Sims discuss the amazing and powerful work that Willie Cole has accomplished throughout his life, I could see the passion that Sims had for these pieces and the hard work he has put into making everything perfect for the exhibition. When in the lecture room with Sims, he was sitting down and just explaining the work, but when we all went and visited Willie Cole’s work in the art gallery with Sims, I saw a light go on and I could tell that Sims was in a place that he loved and felt comfortable in. Sims showed Willie Cole’s most awe-inspiring work and the influences that played a big part in those pieces.
When looking at Willie Cole’s work online prior to Sims’ presentation, I will admit that I was quite confused when seeing hairdryers and shoes made into “faces” and sculptures and irons for a face on a body. After Sims thoroughly explained Willie Cole’s work and how everything was influenced by four generations of women in life, all of whom were domestic workers and in African slavery, it became very powerful to me because of the meaning behind the pieces.
Irons are a very prominent part in Willie Cole’s piece and he used the irons in many different ways. One way were his scorched paintings, where he burned different parts of canvas with an iron and scorched it in a way that made different colored scorch shades. Sims explained that these different shades represented the tremendous variety of race. This piece was especially powerfully to me after hearing the meaning behind it. Everything Willie Cole has worked with in his pieces has been reused items such as high heels, hair dryers and, in his most recent work, plastic water bottles. Sims stated that Willie Cole “likes to use things he can find and calls each thing a fractal that can make one big thing.” I really related to this statement because I think everything has the capability of being remade into something new.
I could tell how much work Sims did in learning about Willie Cole: where he came from, what his influences were, and what he is working on now. At the art opening Sim’s even asked more questions, which shows that he is still taking the time to learn about Willie Cole. I learned so much about the amazing and inspirational work made by Willie Cole thanks to the dedicated work of Patterson Sims.