Cole is a queer mixed media artist who renders the human form through collage-like abstraction. In both her sculptures and illustrations, she layers colors, textures, and fabrics that reference her imaginative childhood. With “Dolls,” a series of creepy-cute sculptures assembled with a medley of found fabric, she nods to her obsession with G.I. Joe action figures. As a kid, when she wasn’t using them to act out entire movies in her head: “I was always taking them apart and getting in trouble,” she says, from the Brooklyn studio where she lives and works. “Which is kind of what I do with sculpture, breaking apart the denim to get to the finer threads.”
For NO BAR, The Standard, East Village’s new queer bar opening Feb 20, Cole expanded scenes from “Black Cowboys” into large-scale mirror decals. They stretch across the bar’s back wall, colorfully hinting at mischief and adventure. The Standard spoke to Cole about her use of color, the challenges she encountered designing for the space, and cowboys as American symbols.
How did your interest in black cowboys start?
I got into black cowboys because a lot of their stories were stolen. I came across some videos on YouTube and started doing research. There were never black cowboys in old movies, and a lot of their stories were actually stolen by Hollywood because they couldn't make black people look strong at the time.