Carol Cole: Cast a Clear Light

  • Mar 3, 2018 – Jun 17, 2018
  • The Gregory D. Ivy Gallery, The Weatherspoon Guild Gallery

Art has been my means of survival. 

Carol Cole states this belief with conviction and demonstrates it with passion. For the past forty years, she has been creating and collecting work that affirms our human need for nurture, our shared vulnerabilities, and our potential for living generously. She calls this art humanist, and finds in it important antidotes to the universal ills of greed, neglect, and selfishness.

As an artist, Cole’s work is anchored in feminism, and she has developed a body of work that uses a single female breast as an icon of nurture. In multiple media, she morphs and transforms that icon from recognizable to abstract and back again. Each iteration employs the motif inventively to create images by turns poignant, witty, and irreverent.

In addition to making art, Cole is an avid collector, thoughtfully acquiring work by both nationally and internationally established artists and notable southern regionalists. Linking them is a shared attention to vulnerability; as in her own work, the motif of the breast is often present, but not definitive. Rather, a fearless commitment to addressing the human condition unites the range of artwork that she lives with in her home.

A native of the Deep South, Cole relishes the region’s artistic traditions. She is also, however, enmeshed in the New York art world. Rather than see the two as distinct, she weds them together, inviting her New York colleagues to North Carolina and championing the South’s artists and museums there. At the core of this connecting is Cole’s belief that one needs to share one's joys and struggles, talents and resources, knowledge and curiosity.

In all that she does, Cole lives out playwright Tennessee Williams’s admonition: “Let us not deny all the dark things of the human heart, but let us try to cast a clear light on them in our work.”

Artists represented in Cole’s collection and included in the exhibition: 

Joshua Abelow | Walter Anderson | Annie Attridge | Andrew Bascle | Barton Lidice Benes | Lynda Benglis | Pearl Blauvelt | Tom Burckhardt | Willie Cole | Clyde Connell | Alicia Creus | Charles Demuth | Lesley Dill | Sam Durant | Mary Beth Edelson | Marisol Escabor | José Fumero | Nancy Grossman | Trenton Doyle Hancock | MacKenzie Jane Hand | Maxine Hayt | Tyler Hildebrand | Mildred Howard | David Humphrey | Carol Jackson | Fritz Janschka | Cletus Johnson | Rajkamal Kahlon | Ida Kohlmeyer | Jiří Kolář  | Michael Kvium | Cary Leibowitz | Robin Levy | Lee Lozano | Suzanne McClelland | Cathy de Monchaux | Rebecca Morgan | Gladys Nilsson | Clifford Odets | Meret Oppenheim | Adrienne Outlaw | Lesley Patterson-Marx | Maria Magdalena Campos Pons | Michelle Rollman | Mia Westerlund Roosen | Niki de Saint Phalle | Beatrice Schall | Michael St. John | Christina Stahr | Meg Stein | Sabyna Sterrett | May Stevens | Hiroshi Sugito | Miroslav Tichý | Marta Tornero | Tennessee Williams | Martha Wilson | Karl Wirsum | Beatrice Wood | Gil Yefman | Rona Yefman

Carol Cole: Cast a Clear Light is organized by the Weatherspoon Art Museum and co-curated by Dr. Emily Stamey, Weatherspoon Curator of Exhibitions, and Paddy Johnson, Editor of Art F City, New York.

This exhibition has been generously supported by James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach, and Geoffrey H. Wall and Kang Seung Lee.

The exhibition is dedicated by the artist to her husband, Seymour Levin.

Related Programs:

Opening Reception • Mar 3 @ 4pm

Conversation with Carol Cole • Mar 20 @ 4pm

Noon @ the ‘Spoon Public Tour • Apr 10 @ 12pm

We have six galleries located on the first and second levels of the museum, view our gallery map.