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James Smalls

(b Somerville, NJ, 1955).

African American sculptor, printmaker, and conceptual artist. He grew up in New Jersey and attended the Boston University School of Fine Arts, the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League of New York City. Cole is best known for assembling and transforming ordinary domestic objects, such as irons, ironing boards, high-heeled shoes, lawn jockeys, hair dryers, bicycle parts and other discarded appliances and hardware into imaginative and powerful configurations and installations embedded with references to the African American experience and inspired by West African religion, mythology and culture. Visual puns and verbal play characterized his works, thereby creating layered meanings. The objects he chose were often discarded mass-produced American products that had themselves acquired an alternate history through their previous handling and use.

In 1989, he became attracted to the motif of the steam iron both for its form and for its perceived embodiment of the experience and history of the unknown persons who had previously used it. He referred to the earliest versions of these irons as ‘Household Gods’ and ‘Domestic Demons’. With them, he engaged with ideas utilizing not only the found object but also the repetitive scorch mark of the iron arranged in either purely decorative patterns or in such ways as to suggest a face or African mask (...

Article

Native American (Cheyenne and Arapaho), 20th–21st century, male.

Born 22 November, 1954, in Wichita (Kansas).

Painter, draughtsman, sculptor, printmaker, installation artist, conceptual artist, educator.

Edgar Heap of Birds is one of the most distinguished North American indigenous artists of his generation. His works reveal a distinctly critical and historical awareness of the ways that American Indian peoples, their histories and their viewpoints have been ignored and written over under colonialism. He has received numerous honours, presenting his work in competition for the United States Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale (...

Article

Belgian, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1948, in Tongeren (Limburg).

Painter, sculptor, assemblage artist, screen printer.

Conceptual Art.

Hélène Keil studied at the Hoger Institute for the Fine Arts. She is a member of the Research Group of Hasselt. She exhibits mainly in Belgium and teaches at the Art Academy in Genk. In ...

Article

Canadian, 20th–21st century, male.

Active in USA 1964–1972.

Born 10 December 1928, in Toronto.

Painter, sculptor, collage artist, lithographer, video installation artist. Artists’ books.

Conceptual Art.

Michael James Snow was a student at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto from 1948 and graduated in 1953. He spent time in Europe in 1954–1955. He also made a name for himself as a jazz musician. He mainly chooses the most ordinary subjects and objects from everyday life, which he empties of their usual significance in order to transmute them by making their place in space and time perceptible. His early works were figurative, interiors and figures. However, from 1961, he particularly exploited the theme of the ...