Reception - Stephanie Cole: Secular Cathedral

Sunday, Apr 5, 2020 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm


On Massachusetts’s North Shore, artist Stephanie Cole has been quietly working out of her Rockport home for over forty years. Her introspective work largely consists of assemblages, conceived in a range of media and layered with found objects collected by Cole over seven decades. From the minute to the monumental, these affecting bits—and the fully realized forms—symbolize the many phases of the artist’s life and the complex arc of her spiritual journey.

The eighteen works in Stephanie Cole: Secular Cathedral focus upon sacred spaces and religious iconography.

Cole began composing sculptures in the 1980s with all manner of things—ceramic shards, figurines, household objects, repurposed clothing, museum tags, seashells and natural materials, discarded jewelry, and countless other artifacts. She explains, “My making ‘things’ using whatever was at hand enabled me to speak artistically in ways paintings alone couldn’t. Because of that, I now ‘paint with stuff.’”

Cole’s work evokes both her physical and spiritual selves, and this duality is evidenced throughout Stephanie Cole: Secular Cathedral. The stained-glass panels resemble stately church windows, yet they are rooted in domestic themes. Her lush mosaics hold space as altars, each one exalting an earthly person, place, or thing. There is a vestment adorned with clothing labels and a reliquary containing the artist’s DNA. Even the jovial Key West dovetails the mortal and religion realms, its shell-encased arms raised in a cross-shaped gesture.

The works on view in Secular Cathedral are deeply personal to Cole and reveal a great deal about what and who she holds dear. Yet for all their autobiographical subject matter, the poignant sculptures universally resonate. While viewers may not directly share her memories, all can glean inspiration from a life well lived and well loved.

Curated by Beth McLaughlin, Fuller Craft Museum Chief Curator of Exhibitions and Collections

Reception: 1:00 – 3:00 pm, featuring a gallery talk at 1:30 pm (reception is included with admission).

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