Watie White


When you’re a kid, everyone makes art. It’s something fundamental that every kid does to make sense of the world. Artists are people who just didn’t stop.

It would be nice for more people to be able to live off of just making art, but its not clear to me how you do that. Sadly, the struggle is a large part of making art. The struggle is what brings you all of the insight. The struggle is what shows you why you are doing it in the first place. The struggle is what produces good work.

All artists want their work to be great, to be lauded, to be in a museum retrospective, of course. But, more than that, I think what we all really want is to have had the insights that led to the work, not the work or the acclaim itself necessarily. Sort of like Victor Frankenstein: the fantasy is not how to make the monster, it is how to make the life. That analogy fits more artists than we want to readily admit. We are seeking some spiritual or non-hierarchical understanding, which for us, happens through making art.

One of the things that you really gain out of being an artist is wrestling with why it is important to be doing it in the first place. There are a million other ways to make a living that are much more direct and much easier. I think one of the biggest problems in the art world is the lack of ability to have the conversation about what the art is for and what it is really about. Another hard thing is accepting that not all of it is going to work for everybody. Knowing that there are no set answers is a big conceptual leap for artists who are trying to find a way of existing in this world. It is really un-knowable; the skills of being a good artist are in a lot of ways antithetical to the skills of making a living at it.

Biography:

I was born in 1971 of itinerant cultural anthropologists in Palo Alto, California. Eventually settling in rural Southern Illinois, I worked at the family business, Ancient Lifeways Institute, until attending Carleton College (BA, 1993). Degrees followed at the School of Art Institute of Chicago (BFA, 1999) and American University (MFA, 2003).

I currently work as a painter and printmaker based in Omaha, Nebraska. Before moving to Omaha in 2006, I was integrally involved in the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative, as well as an adjunct faculty member of DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.

My work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including the Schopf Gallery in Chicago, IL, 5+5 in Brooklyn, NY and the DokHouse Gallery in Amsterdam. My work has also been featured in several publications, including New American Paintings, Almagre, OYEZ Review, Omaha Magazine and the Omaha World Herald. I am a 2002 recipient of the Stanely G. Wolpoff Award from American University, and have attended several residencies including the Kanaal 10 in Amsterdam and the International School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture in Montecastello di Vivio, Italy.

I channel an insatiable curiosity about people's motives and experiences to connect my prolific and various bodies of work to communities. My specific interest in public art makes abandoned spaces my favorite canvases. No matter the medium, contact or scale, I interweave my work with conversation and contradictory points of view as a way to open windows into discourse.

My ability to rationalize a spectrum of views within a visual balance infuses unexpected meaning into my work and reveals there is something very right about disagreement, and something more authentic than truth.


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