The photographs in Traces began as pictorials in gay men’s magazines from the 1980s and ‘90s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Men’s bodies, exposed and on display, are excised and replaced with pieces of other images in the sequence, by hand. Tracing the edges of their bodies with a blade is both tender and violent, and the resulting collages leave marks of absence that weigh heavy with loss. The work explores what it means to be seen and to be vulnerable, and speaks to access and interest in queer and trans bodies, gendered notions of desire and the elements of ourselves that we hide from view.
Born in Indianapolis, Caleb Cole is a former altar server, scout, and 4-H Grand Champion in Gift Wrapping. His mother instilled in him a love of garage sales and thrift stores, where he developed a fascination with the junk that people leave behind. Cole is a 2015 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow, 2013 Hearst 8×10 Biennial Winner, 3-time Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Winner, 2011 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award Winner, 2011 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship Finalist, 2009 Artadia Award Winner, and a 2009 Photolucida Critical Mass Finalist. He exhibits regularly at a variety of national venues and has held solo shows in Boston, New York, Chicago and St. Louis, among others. His work is in the permanent collections of Brown University Art Museum and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. He is represented by Gallery Kayafas, Boston.