FEATURED ARTIST: Russ White
A clever play on Micro Machines—the tiny toy cars of White’s childhood—the pieces in “Macro Machines” are large in scale and address how we have, in adulthood, brought the assumptions, loyalties, and traumas of our childhoods with us. Richly detailed and lushly colorful, the colored pencil drawings of vehicles act as stand-ins for larger social institutions: the police, the school system, or the military, for example. White’s sculptural installations bring these satirical visions to life, as though his drawings leapt off the page.
Also included are two even larger drawings and a series of photographs that draw inspiration from plastic toy model kits. Exploring the idea of whether we are but the sum of our physical parts (in a sense macro machines ourselves) or whether something more spiritual is at play, these pieces subtly reflect on the theological and cosmological mysteries of our place in the physical world.
Influenced by satirists and artists as diverse as Jello Biafra, Kara Walker, and Maurizio Cattelan, White tackles problems in the world head on with a dark sense of humor. In The Honeymoon’s Over, for instance, White presents the visual of a military humvee riddled with bullet holes, overgrown with weeds, and still trailing celebratory tin cans behind it. The phrase “Just Married” has been reduced to “Just,” a commentary on the way conflicts fade from view once we collectively lose interest in them. Through these allegorical vehicles, White questions how we define ourselves by what we believe and where our loyalties lie.
With the Open Source photo series, White presents mass-produced plastic parts-sheet sprues from toy model kits in different natural settings. Calling to mind the negative impact humans have had on Earth’s biosphere, the work also acts as a metaphor for the unseen physical structures and the unseeable cosmological forces all around us. These pieces showcase the artist’s sense of wonder and responsibility regarding the natural world, using (of all things) plastic garbage as a metaphor for its beauty and grandeur.
With direct references to his childhood, like his family’s wood-paneled station wagon in Caprice Classic and the model airplanes made by his father back in the 50’s in Next Generation, White’s work is self-effacing, funny, and emotionally impactful. In a political climate that seems to reward ignorance and indignation, White’s work challenges viewers to explore beyond their comfort zones and to confront their own belief systems.
April 2nd 2016, 7-11pm
April 17th 2016, 3-5pm
White sits down for a Q and A
CoLab Art Night
April 21st 2016, 7-11pm
All visual disciplines welcome; painting, drawing, sewing, design, projection, photography, sculpture, collage and more.
April 23rd 2016, 7-10pm
Genre Beast: Ghost Army, the first of five CD release parties by Gus Watkins, featuring Ghost Army, Mrs., and Black Widows – $10 entry, $15 w/ CD
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Russ White is an artist, illustrator, and writer living in Minneapolis. Born and raised in the Carolinas with a formative stint in Mississippi, he received a BA in Studio Art from Davidson College and spent the next ten years in Chicago working as a high-end cabinet maker. After marrying a native Minnesotan, his relocation to the Twin Cities became inevitable, and he now works out of his studio in the Casket Arts Building. His work has been featured in galleries, museums, and as illustrations in various publications across the country, and he currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association. For more information and to view his full portfolio, visit russ-white.com.