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Cosmo Whyte in the StoryCorps Booth

Cosmo Whyte, Cold Sweat
Cosmo Whyte, Cold Sweat
Cosmo Whyte, Cold Sweat, C-print photograph, 45 by 30 inches.

Cosmo Whyte is on a roll. Tonight, the show “P.O.V.” opens at Swan Coach House Gallery with his work and that of Yanique Norman and Eleanor Neal, and on Saturday the Hudgens Prize Finalists Exhibition opens at the Hudgens Center in Duluth, GA, where Whyte is one of four finalists for the $50,000 prize [BURNAWAY Executive Editor  Stephanie Cash served on the 2017 Advisory Committee but had no role in selecting the finalists). The winner will be announced in September 2017. In 2016, Whyte received a Southern Constellation Fellowship from the Elsewhere Museum, an artist residency in Greensboro, N.C. He also won an Artadia Award last year and is a current Walthall artist fellow with WonderRoot. Whyte’s first solo show with Marcia Wood Gallery will take place October 25-November 25. For more Cosmo, click here to read Logan Lockner’s Studio Visit with him from summer 2016. 

Among the most arresting images in Cosmo Whyte’s body of work is Heirloom 1, a photographic portrait of the artist in which multiple neckties encircle his head and obscure his face. The ties, as I learned in the course of our interview, had belonged to Whyte’s father. Whyte’s Jamaican upbringing ramifies through his art in numerous ways — whether in images of the artist immersed in water while wearing those ties, in installations that address his island home’s colonial past, or in the recurring use of Redcoat garb during his performances.

Performance is often near the end of a series of Whyte’s interconnected artistic practices. Drawings often prefigure costumes he wears in usually audience-free performative works that he documents photographically.

Cosmo Whyte, Heirloom
Cosmo Whyte, Heirloom 2, photo documentation of performance using his late father’s neckties.

Whyte divides his time between Atlanta, where he teaches a survey of visual arts at Morehouse College, and Montego Bay, where his family still maintains a house. He considers both places home, and Whyte has shown his work here, there, and elsewhere. His most recent exhibitions have included ones in Milan, Capetown, and Paris (where the show’s title was Jamaica Jamaica).

Cosmo Whyte, Punch Drunk Love
Cosmo Whyte traveled to the Buckingham Palace gift shop to buy this replica of the Queen’s sugar bowl, which is filled with Jamaican rum and placed on top of a nautical rope in the work Punch Drunk Love.


[Edited and condensed from a 40-minute StoryCorps interview].

Cosmo Whyte, Stranger Than the Village, documentation of performance, 35 by 26 inches.
Cosmo Whyte, Stranger Than the Village, documentation of performance, 35 by 26 inches.

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