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					The University of Wyoming Art Museum’s President’s Council on Minority and Women’s Affairs Final Report (December 2004) In May of 2003, The University of Wyoming Art Museum submitted a grant proposal to the President’s Advisory Council for Minority and Women’s Affairs (PACMWA) requesting funds in support of a residency at the University of Wyoming by African-American artist Willie in conjunction with his exhibition AFTERBURN—Willie Cole: Selected Works 1997-2004 at the University of Wyoming Art Museum (September 17 – December 22, 2004). The $3,000 grant was fully funded (The original grant anticipated the exhibition would run from February 7 through May 15, 2004, but delays in loans of objects moved the exhibition from the spring to the fall of 2004, and PACMWA was notified). Willie Cole’s visit to the University of Wyoming, made possible by this PACMWA grant, was a tremendous success. A total of 372 UW Students, faculty, staff, and members of the Laramie community were served by the five programs that comprised the residency: Residency of Visual artist Willie Cole, September 15-18, 2004: (1) classroom discussion, Advance Printmaking (Mark Ritchie), UW Art Department, 12 students; (2) Knowledge at Noon lunchtime discussion, Black Student Programs (Yasmin Chin), 18 students, faculty, and staff; (3) classroom presentation, Introduction to African American Studies (Keith Armstrong, Department of Adult Learning & Technology), African American Studies, 125 students; (4) exhibition discussion, Sculpture I & II (Ashley Hope Carlisle), UW Art Department, 8 students; (5) slide lecture, UW Art Museum, 149 students, faculty, staff, and community members. Mark Ritchie responded to the impact of Cole’s visit on his art students: ―Students in all of my classes attended Willie Cole's lecture and the exhibition. His work and words enter discussions frequently. The course he visited, Intermediate and Advanced Printmaking, brings him up often in the context of critiques or discussions about their own work. They often bring up Willie's work in regard to transcending materials or the relationship of material to content. It was a very successful visit and had an impact on my classes. It is always good when the art world is made tangible for students. His work has a face, a maker, not just a picture in a history book.‖ The Knowledge at Noon program organized by Black Student Programs and Yasmin Chin was a wonderfully casual yet creatively-inspiring lunchtime event. Cole discussed his early creative inspirations, providing a moving and often funny opportunity for students, faculty, and staff present to think about creativity and multiculturalism. Keith Armstrong of Adult Learning and Technology had the following to say regarding Cole’s visit to his large class ―Introduction to African American Studies,‖ for which Cole discussed not only his work as a visual artist (illustrated by images presented via a classroom internet link) but also played examples of music he composed and performed:

University of Wyoming Art Museum

What I would say is that events like the Willie Cole presentation brings the vastness of our country and the world to a remote state where students desperately need exactly this kind of exposure. However, because UW students often do not know what they are missing (and what cultural insights their educ. is in need of), faculty need to initiate the process for students by "taking the horse to water." Cole spent time with a small group of Art Department sculpture students in his exhibition where they discussed his sculptural objects on view and his approaching to using found objects and making three-dimensional objects in general. A lively discussion continued throughout the hour or so of the program. The Residency concluded with a gallery-jamming 149 students, faculty, staff, and community members (along with UW Art Museum National Advisory Board Members). His eloquent slide presentation about his work was commented on positively by many members of the audience and proved a revelation for many of the art students there. Numerous students who were unable to attend the lecture came to the museum to view the dvd recording as part of class assignments. Art Historian Colleen Denney had the following to say about Cole’s impact on her students: Regarding the actual exhibition and talk, I was able to make great use of it. I had some students who were reluctant to engage with an African American artist but who were bowled over by him and by his work. I used this event as a jumping off point for dialogue about race, ethnicity, heritage, identity and difference in my Modern/Contemporary Art survey course. It has been most helpful. I had students share their papers on the Willie Cole exhibit/lecture in class. Everyone participated in a class of 36 students! From there, they have been choosing individual artists to pursue for a longer research paper on issues of race and ethnicity and cultural borrowing. I see the Willie Cole exhibit and lecture as the important catalyst for our thinking in the course this semester. We need more challenging artists like him, especially in a largely rural state. In addition to the residency itself that reached 372 indivduals, The Willie Cole exhibition has been a continuous draw throughout the semester with 3,235 individual museum visitors, 227 at the exhibition opening, 135 in in the gallery for other public programs, 96 UW students in the galleries on their own, 185 UW students on guided tours through the museum, and 894 K-12 students. This means that 5,144 UW students, faculty, staff, Laramie/Wyoming residents, and visitors to the state benefited by his presence on campus and his exhibition, which will continue to tour around the country. As for the financials, Willie Cole’s total honorarium was $5,150, of which the PACMWA grant covered $3,000. In other words, his visit would not have been possible without the generous support of PACMWA. The UW Art Museum is grateful for that support!

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