Reversed Evidence

Willie Cole, American, born 1955

Made in United States, North and Central America


Flatiron scorches and padding on paper

Sheet: 33 x 32 inches (83.8 x 81.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Hunt Corporation (formerly Hunt Manufacturing Co.) Arts Collection Program, 1993

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african american [x]   black art [x]   iron burn [x]  

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Since the late 1980s, Cole has created numerous works consisting of scorch marks on paper, canvas, or ironing board covers, in which a pattern is burned into the support with an old-fashioned flatiron. The rich, dark tones of the burnt patterns often resemble African textiles, and although they have a contemporary look, the scorch pieces inherently allude to African ritualistic beliefs and activities-such as scarification or fire myths-and to the role of domestic labor, such as ironing, in the African American experience. In some instances, like this example, the work is encased in an old window frame.