Third Space Rotation

/ Exhibitions

Willie Cole, American, born 1955, Stowage, 1997, woodblock print on kozo-shi paper; Gift of Attorney Deborah Byrd Walker; Jones & Davis, P.C., Attorneys at Law; One Hundred Black Men of America, Birmingham Chapter; Members of the Birmingham City Council in recognition of the Members of the Art Club, Inc., and James D. Sokol 1999.6
Willie Cole, American, born 1955, Stowage, 1997, woodblock print on kozo-shi paper; Gift of Attorney Deborah Byrd Walker; Jones & Davis, P.C., Attorneys at Law; One Hundred Black Men of America, Birmingham Chapter; Members of the Birmingham City Council in recognition of the Members of the Art Club, Inc., and James D. Sokol 1999.6

The exhibition Third Space /shifting conversations about contemporary art will look different on your next visit. The exhibition is undergoing its second of three rotations, and a number of objects will come down to showcase new pieces in the gallery. When these light-sensitive works are rotated out to safeguard the art, they will be replaced by works that offer new perspectives on the exhibition themes.

Included in the rotation is artist Willie Cole’s Stowage, a monumental woodblock print created by embedding the perforated surface of an ironing board and twelve iron faceplates into a plywood sheet, flush to its surface. The artist then applied ink to the whole and transferred the resulting image onto paper.

To Cole, the silhouetted image of the board’s surface resembles a historic slave-ship diagram, and the faceplate designs recall the scarification patterns worn by some African people. Thus he ascribed each of the “faces” that surround the central image to a different group exploited in the slave trade. The artist has reimagined the tools used by enslaved Africans and their American descendants—the iron and ironing board—and imbued them with African power and spirituality, thereby maintaining a connection with the motherland.


Third Space is presented by PNC. Additional support provided by the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, City of Birmingham, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, Protective Life Foundation, Vulcan Materials Company Foundation, Robert R. Meyer Foundation, Luke 6:38 Foundation, Susan Mott Webb Charitable Trust, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Alabama Tourism Department, Alabama Humanities Foundation, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Lydia Eustis Rogers Fund, and Friends of Third Space.