Stephanie Cole created mixed media works for over 50 years, but has only recently begun to show them. I was fortunate to see “Secular Cathedral” at Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts on January 25, 2020. It was a randomly chosen outing on a gloomy weekend visit to the Boston suburb. Fuller Craft is a sprawling, spare, modern space, in its 50th year. Yellow traffic safety signs fronting the museum humorously read “Caution Art.” What I discovered on the exhibit’s opening day was unexpected.
Cole reassembles found objects, shells, broken treasures, marbles and textiles into life size 3D self-portraits, stained glass windows and other earthy assemblages. The pieces speak to her personal memories in their long reach through time, yet she does not take herself too seriously. The words “loaned for amusement only” are carved into the wooden frame of “Royal Reliquary” which contains the artist’s DNA. Cole says she “paints with objects” and is interested in “language before words.” Though I live 200 miles away, I purchased tickets for the opening reception, now on hold.
Cole’s daughters convinced her to publicly exhibit her work. One is singer Paula Cole, whose gig backing up Peter Gabriel inspired “The Rock Concert,” not shown at Fuller. It can be experienced in a video by Copper Hound Pictures, featuring concert footage, and the artist’s story of creating the seven foot tall stained-glass memory of one night in London. Click on “The Rock Concert” in Cole’s virtual gallery: https://www.stephaniecoleartist.com/gallery
Coincidentally, one of my paper collages, done 20 years ago, features a magazine photo of Paula Cole, reaching above a sea toward the moon. I took it out of storage and placed it on my private altar, into the light this artist inspires, a light for all who quietly continue making art.