With a flair for the absurd, Wayne White has captured audiences for three decades. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1957, White had limited interactions with art. For his family it was something to be bought at Kmart and discarded at the first inconvenience. With a drive to create, White battled an anti-art sentiment until his High School Graduation. It was at Middle Tennessee State University, putting on fantastical and wild puppet shows, that Wayne first found a community in which he could be accepted as an art-maker. All throughout college though, he was still haunted by the “Southern-Daddy-Shame-Ray-Redneck” looming over his childhood, so White left the South in 1980 for New York City, and after a short while ended up as a set designer and puppeteer for Peewee’s Playhouse in 1986. The show only ran for four years, but in this time White won three Emmys for set design. The job was according to one of his colleagues, “the best job I would ever have in my life.” After the show White got heavily involved in one-man animation projects which pushed him to his limits. Realizing that the jobs weren’t worth the trouble he decided to pursue other outlets for his creative condition. White took to painting increasingly surreal historical scenes, eventually inserting his own comical sayings into them. Finally, White realized he could save time and use thrift shop paintings as a base for his now intricate three-dimensional word art. As time has passed the art world has warmed to his humorous works, and White is now a renowned fine artist.
In 2012 a documentary on White’s life was made.
Beauty is Embarrassing
, a title shared with a handful of the artist’s paintings, deals with the main conflict in the artist’s life. The sentiment behind it is that we are often ashamed with finding beauty in what we do, or embarrassed by the beauty we create. The takeaway being that we should not let it stop us from doing what we love. Available on Netflix.
For more works, information, and videos visit these sites:
- Wayne White Website
- Beauty is Embarrassing, Documentary on Wayne White
- Here is a great article from Esquire Magazine about Wayne White