Puppeteer. Set designer for "Pee Wee's Playhouse." Emmy winner.
These are just a few titles critically claimed artist Wayne White has held that make him qualified to give the Visual Arts Committee's second Art Talk of the year Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the UC Auditorium.
White is a Tennessean who graduated from MTSU in 1979. From there, he traveled to New York City and worked his career up to a famous puppeteer, where he eventually won three Emmy awards for his set design in the television program "Pee Wee's Playhouse." But that's not all White does in terms of his artistic ability. Among other things, he has established himself as an art director for a good deal of music videos, a notable example being the video for The Smashing Pumpkin's song "Tonight, Tonight."
White is also an acclaimed painter. He has received praise for his unique medium of taking a regular ordinary painting, such as a beautiful landscape, and then painting a three-dimensional word or phrase over it. The phrases or words he uses are often quite humorous and "thought-provoking" for the audience to interpret.
"When I sit down to work on my art, I mutter my own personal good voodoo mantra. It's a secret," White said in regards to his routine when he approaches his artwork. White's eccentricity and creativity are exemplified in the large beard he sports across his face.
A lot of the work White produces displays roots of his Southern background, as he grew up just south of Knoxville in Chattanooga. White's puppets typically tend to be large scaled and with very large heads in comparison to rest of their body. The puppets are also often over-dramatized in the structural features of the human face, such as the nose.
"A big influence on my work is Red Grooms, a fellow Tennessean," White said in an interview with The Daily Beacon. "My giant puppets and installations are in the same tradition as his."
The VAC, in conjunction with the School of Art, organized Thursday's lecture and selects artists to bring to campus each semester. Members of the committee can nominate artists and then decide based on the majority.
"We usually have a pretty good turnout at our lectures," said Marta Lee, chair of the committee and a senior majoring in two-dimensional art with a concentration in painting.
Lee said the lectures are typically held in the Art & Architecture Building, but because of the interest Wayne's visit has generated, the venue has been switched to the UC Auditorium in order to seat more people.
The lecture is free and open to the public.