Stowage, 1997
Cole has recently employed the iron within the medium of woodcut. And he is as innovative with this traditional medium as he is with the scorch. The four-by-eight-foot image, entitled Stowage (1997), is derived from a diagram of a slave ship he found in a childhood schoolbook. To create this work, he cut holes in the oversize wooden planks that comprise the printing block and inserted twelve different irons. Each face suggests a different tribe along the African coast that might have traveled in this massive slave vessel. The central plank was cut to accommodate an ironing board that represents the ship itself. This unconventional printing matrix fuses the customary grainy wood surface with the perforated metal faces of the irons and the ironing board. Cole's monumental print integrates medium, form, and piercing social comment and is a further example of his inventive use of the print medium to fit his own vision.

Cole as printmaker
Domestic I.D., IV, 1992
Sunflower, 1994
Stowage, 1997
Stowage. 1997. Woodcut, 49 9/16 x 95 1/16" (125.9 x 241.5 cm). Publisher: Alexander and Bonin Publishing, Inc. Printer: Derrière L'Étoile Studios, New York. Edition: 16. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Jacqueline Brody Fund and The Friends of Education Fund

©1998 The Museum of Modern Art, New York