Willie Cole
The Sole Sitter, 2013


Willie Cole (American, born 1955) is a New Jersey-based artist and the third living artist to be featured in Spotlight. Known for his figurative sculptures made of shoes and also prints made with iron scorch marks, Cole takes inspiration from African sculpture and considers the stories that found materials can bring to art.


Cole often makes sculptures with second-hand high heels. Examined closely, the viewer can see their scuffs, creases, and worn heels. In the case of The Sole Sitter, which is around six feet tall, the maquette was made with real shoes, 3D scanned, and enlarged. After the artist made adjustments to the enlarged 3D print, the sculpture was cast in bronze.

The Sole Sitter was acquired in 2020 as a part of the McNay’s Landscape masterplan and is the first outdoor sculpture in the collection by an African American artist. In addition to making art, Willie Cole writes creatively and is a musician.

Willie Cole, American, born 1955. The Sole Sitter, 2013. Bronze. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Museum purchase with funds from the Russell Hill Rogers Fund for the Arts.

Important Spotlight Dates

Submission Deadline

Reserve your spot at Spotlight by Friday, March 25, 2022

Artwork Delivery

By Monday, April 25, 2022 by appointment

Spotlight Exhibition Opens

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Spotlight Celebration

Sunday, May 22, 2022
12–5 PM, exact times TBD

Teacher Resources

Space Considerations

Many teachers ask about the size restrictions for Spotlight. This year, we ask that any projects larger than 6×6’ receive prior approval. The gallery space is shared and we hope to show as many student projects as possible. Smaller individual projects and group projects are preferred. For more information on this program, visit the Spotlight page.

Major support for Spotlight is provided by Rackspace, Semmes Foundation, Inc., and Texas Commission for the Arts.