Newly minted IU graduate will use fellowship to travel, study
Artist Christopher White's work with ceramics explores the interaction between nature and man, homing in on those moments when decay begins and the natural environment slowly -- yet insistently -- begins to reclaim created structures.
Now he'll have a chance to expand his artistic and cultural knowledge, as well as his equipment, through a $15,000 Windgate Fellowship.
Granted each year since 2006 by The Center for Craft, Creativity and Design, the award is meant to give emerging artists both the validation and financial resources to pursue their dreams. Ten fellows were named in 2012, selected from 114 nominees.
"It's a great honor and will allow me to broaden my horizons as an artist," said White, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in ceramics from Indiana University's Henry Radford School of Fine Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences. "It will really help me jumpstart my career."
White plans to use the fellowship to conduct research at the International Museum of Ceramics in Italy, as well as travel to Chicago and California's Joshua Tree National Park to study urban decay and nature.
"I'll be looking at places where nature is starting to reintroduce itself into urban environments, and starting to encroach on it almost parasitically, and will be taking images and inspiration from that," he said. "I've had a fondness for abandoned buildings since I was younger. And I'm still interested in things decaying or being abandoned or overlooked. There's the organic-ness of something being taken back, which creates this push-pull between humans and nature."
His love for that progression of decay is evident in his work.
In one piece called "Cycle of Decay," a gnarled wooden hand holds a partially deconstructed brick wall in its palm, the wall's cracks and irregular lines sporting encroaching greenery. Another piece, "Driftwood Teapot," depicts a beautifully shaped teapot, its natural driftwood exterior and spout sharply contrasting with colorful, street-style graffiti etched at its base.
A Hoosier native who grew up in Bloomington, White's artistic dream as an incoming freshman was to become a painter. But time spent in a required 3D studio course quickly reintroduced him to ceramics.
"I just fell in love with the medium," he said. "I love the dimensionality of it, the idea of being able to see something from different dimensions and getting off that two-dimensional plane. It's just so much more interactive to me."