Stephanie Cole - My Life in Pieces: Painting with Stuff

May 11, 2019 — July 7, 2019

Stephanie Cole has been living and quietly working in Rockport for nearly 50 years. While she began her artistic career studying painting Stephanie’s passions and her convictions have taken her far beyond the traditional artist’s easel into a world filled with intricately crafted mosaic-like sculptures, created using hundreds even thousands of pieces. Everything from colored glass and ceramic shards to bits of clothing and old typewriter keys can be found in her work, carefully pieced together and laden with meaning.

Stephanie, along with her husband Jim, settled in Rockport in the mid-1960s having already studied painting at the California College of Arts and Crafts and the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford, Connecticut. She would continue her studies at the Massachusetts College of Art, Salem State University and Montserrat College of Art. While she and Jim raised two daughters, Stephanie taught art at Rockport Elementary School.

By the early 1980s, Stephanie had moved away from painting and into experimenting with sculptural work beginning a series that she calls “memory sculptures.” The works are often begun as a response to something, a feeling of loss or anger, or perhaps joy and astonishment. Today, Stephanie’s works fill her Rockport home and studio. Some explore feminist and political themes while others are autobiographical capturing the artist at regular intervals throughout her life. Part of Stephanie’s intention has been to record history through her sculpture, her own personal story and the history of the world
around her.

For inspiration, Stephanie Cole looks to her family and, until very recently, they along with her closest friends were her only audience. The Cape Ann Museum is pleased and honored to showcase a selection of her works here, introducing the public to a unique and inspiring woman. Stephanie’s works will be exhibited in 2020 at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton.

The exhibition will open on May 18 with a meet-the-artist reception from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.

A gallery talk with the artist is offered on Saturday, June 22 at 11:00 a.m. Reservations required.



Mixed media works by Stephanie Cole (left to right) Dining Room Window, Violet, Depressing Issue.


Download the press release here


Artist Statement

I can’t resist a pun. Let me first say that it does not mean I am falling apart. What it does say is that this show represents many moments in my life, and it uses actual “pieces” to create the moments. My father was a painter. My degree in Fine Arts is in painting. I had my first one-woman show in 1980 as a watercolor artist. But PAINTING WAS NOT ENOUGH. I was constantly seduced into “making things out of stuff.” I had the good fortune to allow myself the time and money to see where the artistic path would take me. This came after raising our two daughters, turning a derelict house into a home, being a teacher, and caring for declining family elders.

I have remained, to this point, non-commercial. Selling one’s art allows others to enter into the process. Having so many responsibilities in my younger life (I still have some by the way), gave me only “pieces” of time and that helped to set the process. Materials presented themselves: beach glass gathered while daughters had swimming lessons, a precious broken dish or glass, worn out beloved clothing items. Once I was on a roll friends donated things that they
too could not throw away due to memories. I have vast collections of possible art materials.

“Words are my second language.” I say this often. My visual art expresses things that need to be said, felt, acknowledged, and sometimes celebrated. You will see a few of my stories here.

Stephanie Cole
April 2019

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