Kevin Cole

“My artistic journey has paralleled my personal sojourn to become wiser, find truth and search for pure expression. While evolving from a more expressionistic place to one of abstraction, I have deeply explored the interplay between color and music, particularly influenced by the musical art forms birthed by African American culture: such as jazz, blues, rap, and gospel.”

— Kevin Cole

Faith is All I Need

Artist Statement

In Toure’s book, “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?,” he defines the term “post-blackness” as a way for African American artists to be identified such that their work can be seen beyond the sociological/stereotypical definition of “Black Art.”  

Early in this book, he talks about the freedom that New Blacks have to be themselves without feeling as though they are tethered to a past that they do not agree with or one that they feel they are not a product of.

Truth is my work is a colorful reminder of promises still unkept, imperialism still institutionalized, and stealth deceit that has stolen the dreams and birthrights of twenty generations of a once proud people.  It stands in contrast to the canon just as Norman Lewis’ work stood in contrast to those who framed early abstract expressionism.

When I turned eighteen years old, my grandfather told me about a tree on his property where African-American men had been lynched by their neckties on their way to vote.  The experience left a profound impression. I am personally tethered to this inescapable memory.

Thus, my work is rooted in a place of targeted tragedy. Its curvilinear twists, knots, and loops are fed by the energy found in the souls of ALL those who toil and triumph everyday against the odds and against the unheralded tragedies of life.  My work is a universal story with both hero and villain, good and evil.   The narrative is embedded like html code. It is not visible to the eye, but it can be decoded…

Faith with no limitations

While the nation grows more and more cynical, as with our ancestors we must have an abundance of faith to beat the odds.

 

Unfamiliar Steps

Millennials and others have no idea how to combat our current crisis.  But we must take steps to move forward.

 

Cole One

The struggle is real.

 

Mixed Circumstances

The thought of another four years is just repugnant. We must change.

 

When Joy Chases

If only Wakanda were real.

 

Moving Forward

Blood, sweat and tears… two score and ten

 

Soul Ties

We are all inextricably connected, wound together by both truth and lies, whether we think so or not

 

Climbing Jacobs Ladder ETC

Another one killed today, strangled while “resisting arrest.” Strange fruit, indeed.


                        -Kevin Cole

Education     

M.F.A Drawing, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL

M.A. Art Education/Painting, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL

B.S. Art Education, University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, AR

 

Over 3600 Selected Public, Private and Corporate Collectors

  • The Phillips Collection, Washington DC
  • The Detroit Museum of Art, Detroit MI
  • East Point Public Library, East Point GA
  • The Blandon Memorial Museum Ft. Dodge, IA
  • Arts & Science Center, Pine Bluff, AR
  • The Harvey B. Gantt Center, Charlotte, NC
  • North Carolina Central University Museum, Durham NC
  • Brooks Museum, Memphis, TN
  • Tyson’s Food Headquarter, Bentonville, AR
  • Louis University Art Museum, St. Louis, MO
  • High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA

National Museum of African American History Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC

  • William Jefferson Clinton Library, Little Rock, AR
  • Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AR
  • Morgan & Stanley, Chicago, IL
  • IP Stanback Museum, Orangeburg, SC
  • Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT
  • The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA
  • Morris Museum, Augusta, GA
  • Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia, PA
  • Tampa Museum, Tampa FL
  • US Embassy Barbados
  • Corcoran Gallery Museum, Washington, DC
  • Walton Fine Art Center, Fayetteville, AR
  • Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta, GA
  • Hammonds House Galleries and Museum, Atlanta, GA
  • Tubman Museum, Macon, GA
  • LaGrange Museum, LaGrange, GA
  • Dayton Institute of Art, Dayton, OH
  • The Dr. David C. Driskell Center, University of Maryland, MD
  • Philander Smith College, Little Rock, AR
  • Clark Atlanta University Art Museum, Atlanta, GA
  • UPS, Chicago, IL
  • The Coca-Cola Co. Atlanta, GA
  • Alabama Power Co., Birmingham, AL
  • Atlanta Life Insurance Co., Atlanta, GA
  • Bank of America, Charlotte, NC
  • Bell Laboratories, Hartford, NJ
  • City of Charleston, Charleston, SC

Selected Solo, Group, Juried & Invitational Exhibitions

 

2020 LaGrange National Juried Exhibition Purchase Award LaGrange Museum of Art,

Lagrange GA ( Juried)

Soul Ties Georgia Museum of  Art University of Georgia, Athens GA  ( Solo)

 

2019 Pulse Art Basel E& S Art Gallery, Miami ,FL

Un Common Collections Selections from Fifth teen Collectors. The David C Driskell Center

University of Maryland at College Park, MD (invitational

50 Years of Afri-COBRAStella Jones Gallery, New Orleans, LA (group)

 “Afri-COBRA Now” Gallery Myrtis, Baltimore, MD (group)

Atlanta Biennial, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, GA  (invitational)

Institute 93B, New York, NY (one Person)

Beneath the Surface Kevin Cole & Jeffery Paclipan Hathaway Fine Art, Atlanta GA

(two person)

 

2018 Respect Celebrating 50 Years Afri-COBRA Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

Little Roc, AR (group)

Prizm Art Basel Miami Juried Exhibition , Miami FL

 Along Colored Lines, Marta Hewitt Gallery, Cincinnati, OH( solo)

Afri-COBRA NOW, Kravet Wehbly Gallery, New York, NY

Danci with Color Nicole Longrnecker Gallery, Houston TX (solo)

2017 “Conversation with My Past”, Brenau University, Gainesville GA (solo)

Printmaking from Experimental Workshop, Hudgen Center, Duluth GA (invitational)

Constructing Identity Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art,

Portland Museum of Art, Portland, OR.

 

2016 Embassy: Istanbul Turkey, (Invitational)

North Carolina Central Art Museum, Durham, NC (solo)

Afri-COBRA Now Hearne Fine Arts, Little Rock, AR (group)

 

2015 “White Linen” Thelma Harris Gallery, Oakland, CA (3 person)

ArtField, Lake City, SC (Juried)

2014” Living off the Wall, 10th Street Gallery, St. Louis MO, (solo)

Art Basel Miami, Phantom Gallery, Miami, FL (group)

Traditions Re Defined:  the collection of Brenda and Larry Thompson, St. Louis University Art Museum, St. Louis, MO (collection)

LaGrange National Juried Exhibition XXVIII, LaGrange Museum of Art, LaGrange GA

 

2013    Outside the Boundaries Black & Abstract, Sam Gilliam, Alma Thomas, Romare Bearden, Curator Valarie Oliver, Kevin Cole Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX (invitational)

One Hundred Fifty Years of African American Art From the Collection of the David C Driskell Center,” Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati. OH (from collection)

“Kevin Cole Straight from the Soul 25 Year Survey Traveling Exhibition

Curator Dr. Julie McGee, Weston Art Gallery Cincinnati, OH

2012    And the Band Played On, Hearne Fine Arts, Little Rock AR (solo)

Kevin Cole Straight from the Soul, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta, GA

The Southwest Art Center, Atlanta, GA

Mixed Signals” Lafayette College, Allentown PA (solo)

2011 1“Seeking Higher Ground”, Delaware State University, Dover, DE (solo)

Georgia Artist Competition, Abernathy Art Center, Atlanta GA

Juror Michael Rooks, Curator of the High Museum of Art (juried)

2010 ”Protégé Sam Gilliam & Kevin Cole, The Harvey B. Gantt Center, Charlotte NC

LaGrange National XXXV Biannual, LaGrange Museum, LaGrange, GA (juried)

Corridor Gallery, New York, (invitational)

 

2009    “African American Currents: Contemporary Art from the Bank of America at 40 Acres in Sacramento, CA (Collection)

National Black Fine Art Show, New York (Group)

2008    Golden Fine Arts, Denver, CO (Group)

Afri-CORBA: Liberated Images, Community Folk Art Center, Syracuse, NY (group)

National Black Fine Art Show, New York, NY (group)

In Context the Language of Abstraction, Abrons Art Center, New York, NY (invitational

 

Selected Bibliography

 

  • Ellis Widner, A different perspective” The Arkansas Democrat & Gazette: Sunday May 12, 2019
  • Kirby Davis, Cole to lecture on how art. teaching careers are connected: The Chautauqua Daily

Friday July 27. 2018

  • Nadja Sayej Afri-COBRA: The Collective help shape the Black Arts Movement, The Guardian.Com

Paris June 15,2018

  • Richard Carter: ArtFEST 2019 featuring Visual Artist Kevin Cole: Time Record News USA TODAY

Friday June 15, 2018

  • Blue Greenberg, NCCU exhibition abstract blaze of color’ The Herald Sun, Durham, NC September 18, 2016
  • Leslie Peacock, Black (artist) power “Here” in Pine Bluff, Arkansas Times: June 26,2016
  • Courtney Lawson” Celebrating a and moving forward, Northern NOW Fall 2016
  • Ruth Meyer” The Artist Life Profile: Kevin Cole Straight From the Soul” The Artist Magazine; September 2013
  • Christopher Hoeting” Straight from the Soul” AEQAI, January 20,2013 Cincinnati, OH
  • Kathy Schwatz “Kevin Cole and Ties that Bind” Beat; Volume 19 Issue 06

December 19-25 2012: Cincinnati, OH

  • Deborah Horn: From Hanging to Heaven to Neckties to Ladders,; Sealife Magazine Pine Bluff AR October 2012

Lee Raudanis “Six Educators Quietly Making a Difference, PAGE Magazine; January/ February 2012

  • Ann Gibson, Protégé Sam Gilliam and Kevin Cole at The Gantt Center, Charlotte, NC 2010
  • Halima Taha “Collaboration” 20 Years Hearne Fine Arts, Little Rock AR (book) 2008
  • Dennis Forbes “ Black Artist in the their Studios and Workspaces” Book 2008
  • Sean Drakes” Black Enterprise Magazine “Artistic Expressions” September 08
  • The History Makers, Chicago, IL January 2007
  • Cathy Fox, “Things Old, new” The Atlanta Journal & Constitution August 12, 2005
  • Kendra Story Sculptors use their hands and hear to create timeless pieces” Upscale Magazine April 2005
  • Edmonds Alan Three Decades of Print Making, The Brandywine Printmaking Workshop book 2004
  • Matthew Kangas Review Sculpture Magazine  May 2004 Vol. 23 No. 4
  • Wanda Freeman, “ An eye For Voices” The Arkansas Democrat and Gazette Northwest Arkansas  Edition , January 16, 2004

Kevin Cole received his B.S. from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, an M.A. in art education from the University of Illinois at Urbana, and an M.F.A. from Northern Illinois University. Within the last 32 years, he has received 27 grants and fellowships, 66 awards in art, 51 teaching awards and over 45 public art commissions. He just received the 2020 Brenda and Larry Thompson from the Georgia Museum in Athens, GA and the  2019 Nexus Award from the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center in Atlanta.  

His artwork has been featured in more than 475 exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad. Cole’s artwork is included in more than 3600 public, private and corporate collections throughout the United States and abroad. Public collections include the new National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, The Georgia Museum, Athens, GA,  High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA.; William Jefferson Clinton Library, Little Rock, Ark.; Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, Ark.; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.; The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, La.; The David C Driskell Center University of Maryland at College Park; Dayton Institute of Art, Dayton, Ohio; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia, Pa.; The Georgia Museum of Contemporary Art, Atlanta, Ga.; Corcoran Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Tampa Museum in Tampa, Fla. 


Corporate collections include Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C.; IBM, N.Y. and King and Spaulding Law Firm, Atlanta, Ga. Private collectors include Michael Jordan, formerly of the Chicago Bulls; Dallas Austin, Film & Records Producer; Brad Sellers, formerly of the Chicago Bulls and Darrell Walker, former head coach of the Toronto Raptors. Cole has also created more than 45 public art works, including the Coca-Cola Centennial Olympic Mural for the 1996 Olympic Games.

Mr. Cole just completed on a 20’x55’x16” installation for Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, GA.

His artwork has been featured in more than 125 publications, recently The Guardian Magazine in Paris, France in Scholastic Art with Dale Chihuly as well as The Washington Post, Sculpture Magazine, The Union Tribune in San Diego, Calif., and The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta, Ga. Cole and his artwork has also appeared on the NBA Inside Stuff., Ill. Cole is also an Art Consultant for the College Board in New York.