If you have ever watched The ABC sitcom “Freddie” and ABC’s “Extreme Makeover Home Edition”, you may have already viewed some of Rodney White’s phenomenal art pieces. Once in a while something so unique, eye-catching and visually pleasing comes along that it just really grabs you. This is the case with the winning combination of color, rustic style, and timely messages that Rodney White has created.
One critic writes of Rodney White’s work, “The most amazing aspect of this work is that it isn’t created on a computer but on a canvas instead. I’m amazed by these wonderful typographical beauties. The retro feeling, grunch effect and nice color combinations make them really stand out. Most of his work contains meaningful messages. Rodney also uses different materials and techniques, mainly acrylic. Most of his paintings are on wood but some are on metallic and there is even one on a faux brick panel.”
This Georgian artist, now a New Yorker residing in Brooklyn, has an ever-growing audience buying and collecting his works. His popularity soared after his national exposure on television, and the past two years have been a turning point for this self-taught artist who hails from Augusta, Georgia.
Rodney White was born in Augusta in 1976. He lived in Atlanta from 1997-2005, and then made the move to Brooklyn, New York where he works and lives. During his time in Atlanta, Rodney did attend a technical institute to study visual communications in 1999. In 2003, he had his first solo exhibition. His “Solo Exhibitions” include the following: 2005 “Future Becomings” Claret Arts: Atlanta, Georgia; 2004 “Retro Notions” Claret Arts: Atlanta, Georgia; 2004 “Recent works” Octane: Atlanta, Georgia; and 2003 ” Love is…” Open Artist Studio: Atlanta, Georgia.
Since 2004 Rodney White has also accumulated quite a list of credits for “Group Exhibitions” where his work has been admired. These include the following:
2006 “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” Anchorage Museum of History and Art: Anchorage, Alaska; 2006 “Two Person Show: Recent Works” Tag Art Gallery: Nashville, Tennessee; 2005 “Think Small Exhibition” Art 6 Gallery: Richmond, VA; 2005 Affordable Art Fair: Clapham Art Gallery (London, UK) New York, NY; 2005 “Open Gallery Show” E. Weber Gallery: Atlanta, Georgia; 2005 Decatur Arts Walk: Decatur, Georgia; 2005 Art Expo New York; 2004 Spin & Gin Fund-raiser: Atlanta, Georgia; 2004 Decatur Arts Walk: Decatur, Georgia; 2004 “Group Show: Recent Works” Iridium Gallery: Roswell, Georgia; 2004 “Open Gallery Show” Iridium Gallery: Roswell, Georgia; and 2004 “Roswell Art Walk” Taylor Kinzel Gallery: Roswell, Georgia.
Besides his group and solo exhibits, Rodney White’s exposure took on national proportions with the following credits: 2005 Art World News article, April issue; 2005 Extreme Makeover Home Edition, 4 paints chosen to complete a new home; 2005 “Freddie” sitcom on ABC Rodney White image chosen for part of the permanent set design; 2005 article in Access Atlanta Exhibition Review; 2006 Extreme Makeover Home Edition, 9 pieces chosen to complete a new home; and 2006 TBS’s Movie and a Makeover, original art commission for a room design.
What does Rodney think about his exposure on network TV? “There seems to be some gravitational pull between my work and the ABC network. My work was chosen to appear on Extreme Makeover Home Edition with the Crawford Smith Family. A whopping 9 pieces were hanging in the home, AND you could actually see them on television. It was a total surprise to me. My mom called while I was in the middle of painting to tell me and almost immediately after the images were shown my phones start ringing off the hook with calls from friends and family saying that they saw it and people congratulating me. It was a big deal the first time and big deal again. What was seen on the show were canvas transfers of my paintings.”
If you ask Rodney what inspires him, he would say, “Everything. I see things everywhere and everyday that gives me some idea for my pieces. I love to visit flea markets and antique markets. I notice the natural aging of things around us. Billboard signs, buildings, packages, and aging paper catch my attention. I seek to replicate the rusting and decaying look of things I see.”
Where did his desire to be an artist all begin? He claims that he has dabbled in art since his pre-kindergarten days. He tells the story of rushing through his class work so that he could be the first one back to the scrap paper box in the classroom. In fact, he admits that he would fill the blank pages in the front and back of encyclopedias because he thought, “Those sheets were put there for me.”
When Rodney further explains his view on his own work, he shares his fascination with poetry, typography, advertising design and vintage signs. He says that by trying to encourage others to notice those things that he is, “learning, teaching, and inspiring.” In describing his work and its connection to the past, he says, “The past has always been something that I’ve felt we could/should learn from, and advertising has always been a reflection of the desires and societal norms that are driven into the hearts and minds of consumers. Well…what if those driven desires became more positively influential on our minds and inner beings? Thus, giving us something to take into the way we live our lives, and approach the world around us.”
Rodney has a love for the deterioration of things which includes objects and surfaces. He notices how things have developed and aged. He takes note of antique labels, old books and vintage posters which have that “experienced look.” Because he believes that art will be around a long time, he feels the best way to leave messages behind is through art.
Rodney also says that he gets inspiration from music, other artists, poets, and literature. He enjoys music of all kinds and says, “I’m working on a slight taste for country. And that doesn’t seem to be working out. It is much harder than I thought.” Other artists that he admires are: Sabrina Ward Harrison, Rik Catlow, Anja Kroenke, Tim Marrs, and Ashley Wood. Among the poets he reads are Saul Williams and Sabrina Ward Harrison.
When speaking of his friends, Rodney says, “A lot of my paintings come from what I write often in my Journal/Idea books. A lot of times my friends and the people I meet say the most brilliant things and they sometimes never mean them the way I hear them. Lucky me I guess.”
When asked about his interests, Rodney says, “I love furniture and dreaming up living spaces. Décor stuff. Movies, collecting and listening 2 music. Books (Angels, Aliens, Theology) and Writing. Learning to enjoy the small things about life – like walking in the sand barefoot. Riding my bike around the city. Daily getaways listening to my iPod. (I tend to really visit new places when I do this). Talking and making…connections with people. Learning about people and their stories. Everybody has them – not everybody has someone that wants to listen to them & DREAMING…Always Dreaming.”