Grace Cole (1943–2015) was born in Chicago, Illinois, and began art lessons in her 30s. Trained in the classical tradition, Cole studied and apprenticed under artists specializing in various media, including those at École Albert Defois in Vihiers, France, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Working in oils, pastels, charcoal, and mixed media, she has offered private and semi-private instruction, as well as art-related workshops and seminars, in her own studios, in colleges and artist communities throughout the Chicagoland area, and in France.

Rebuffing suggestions that she develop and stick with a single, marketable “style,” Cole has chosen to vary the media and subject matter of her art throughout her career, strengthening her interest in and commitment to the creative process. Nevertheless, she believed in mastering artistic practices and, thus, used various series to work out the challenges she encountered in her art and to develop and refine the techniques of her profession.

Working in oils, charcoal, and carbon pencil, Cole has described herself as a “modern, classically trained artist.” Cole says, “my artwork is a process by which I contribute to humanity and history. Art, a record of human history, compels me to create works that speak not only to something of our time, but works that likewise capture the human spirit with a timeless quality.”

Noting that art has opened an entire new world for her, Cole has said that she is “stimulated by the creativity, the challenges, and the sheer pleasure of the process.”

Cole has been an active member of the arts community. She was member of the Chicago Artists’ Coalition (1984–2009), the Arts Alliance Illinois (1987–2009), and the Arts Club of Chicago (1998 to 2009). She served on the board of the Friends of the Chicago Cultural Center (1999–2009). And, as a charter member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, she served its Illinois Chapter as a board member (1996–2005) and as President (2002–2003).

She has said that, “Art is a process, a means of discovery by which we explore who and what we are. It is a means of delivering our essence in the pursuit of excellence. My aim is to capture the essence of beauty and dignity—the most eternal elements—and to capture the spirit of the classical, the timeless.” This sentiment has grounded all of the pieces she has created as an artist for over 30 years.

Cole’s works are in collections throughout the world.