Tommy White, born in Detroit, received his M.F.A. from Clemson University in the discipline of painting and a B.A. from Michigan State University in ceramics. His work is included in many private collections as well as the permanent collections of the Mobile Museum of Art in Alabama, Crayola Corporation, and Capital One Corporation. He has exhibited in over twenty states, the District of Columbia, Melbourne, Australia, and Seoul, South Korea. After working in higher education for nearly two decades, Tommy refocused his attention to his professional practice and enjoys working in his studio located in Denver, Colorado.
My painting is more about your seeing than it is about my seeing. Though I’ve created the artwork, the information at hand relates to how each one of us goes about navigating within our contingent world.
Metaphorically, my paintings explore relationships between environment, psyche, and one’s ability to rationalize. Environment is characterized by any tangible force affecting an individual’s physical and/or conscious/unconscious self. The monochromatic fields and grids depict this. Psyche is represented by the lyrically ornate, complex black and white imagery. These disparate elements attempt to develop a sense of harmony and poise. Upon further examination, one can recognize that the environment is slightly off-kilter, positioning the psyche to seek balance. By amassing and manipulating accessories of value (perceived or actual), a psychological and rational remedy is sought. This might resemble the positioning weights on a scale … or how children of different sizes maneuver on a teeter-totter to achieve equilibrium.
Formally, my investigations focus on three primary concerns: subtleties of color, visual activity, and pareidolia (psychically charged imagery). I attempt to optically animate each composition by combining these elements pictorially. This effect varies from piece to piece, ranging from readily apparent to something quite subtle. In some cases, a viewer may actually begin to lean slightly as a physiological response.
In the end, my paintings function visually from a distance as well as up close. Each piece should be observed for a period of time, allowing for both the “psyche” and “environment” time to become dominant against the other. This might take a bit of effort, but this activity will allow a dialogue to develop between the two. Further, my intent is that the viewer will then assimilate these ideas in a sort of self-reflective practice (a mandala if you will). By doing this, a new cognizant rationale may develop, allowing the viewer to navigate through his/her everyday environment with fresh insight and balance.