Wheels, Totems, and Wishes, 2019

By repurposing shoes, plastic containers, and other common materials, Willie Cole creates visceral artworks that communicate potent messages about civilization’s place in space and time aka history. In this site-specific installation a seamless cloudscape and totem pole made from high-heel shoes serve as backdrop for 3 unique mandala-like constructions made from recycled water bottles. Cole invites viewers into the space, asking individuals to write messages and place them in bottles at the center of the mandala, playing off the classic “message in a bottle” concept.


Willie Cole is a conceptual artist known for recycling and repurposing everyday objects to make transformative sculptures and installations that collapse the past, the present, and the future, into a single NOW. His exhibition highlights include The Metropolitan Museum in New York, the National Gallery in Washington DC, and San Francisco Museum of Art, among others.  He is represented by Alexander and Bonin Gallery in New York.