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'Beauty Is Embarrassing' Reveals Wayne White's Wackiness

Posted: 03/16/2012 9:02 am

Wayne White is an artist who has likely made a huge impression on your life whether you know it or not. After being the cartoonist for The New York Times and The Village Voice, White landed a gig making props and puppets for a little show called "Pee-Wee's Playhouse". The artist and cartoonist even became the voice of the puppet Randy!

White is the subject of the new documentary, titled, "Beauty Is Embarrassing," premiering at this year's South By South West Festival. In the film, we see enormous puppets, enchanting music videos, paintings and more from an artist who knows no bounds. Huffpost Arts got Mr. White to answer a few questions via e-mail during his SXSW adventure in order to figure out just what makes him tick.

HuffPost Arts: If you were to sum up your life in one defining moment, what would it be?

Wayne White: That's easy. We see it all play out in the movie and it's the day my first grade teacher, Sandra Stoddard, stood me up in front of the class and told everybody I was going to be an artist one day. It was on the first day of school and she had just seen a drawing I had made of the cafeteria lunch. My parents had always called me an artist because I drew all the time, but having a teacher say something like that in front of a crowd of teachers really sealed the deal. I was convinced from that moment on that there was really nothing else for me. Plus, it was rare to find that kind of support in the little Southern town I grew up in. I was lucky that day.

HuffPost Arts: Who has been the biggest influence on you and your work?

WW: It's impossible to name one person; the whole point of being an artist is to draw from as many sources as you can. I have a real problem with the idea of a guru or authority figure. Again, that's a big theme in the documentary -- how I reacted against such figures in my life and how I've had to rely on both positive and negative reinforcement.

HuffPost Arts: Do you approach an idea through a single medium or do you always think about every avenue at your disposal?

WW: I choose the medium first and then I get the idea cooking. When you're an artist you have to believe in a certain voodoo -- that the object you are making has a life of its own and can tell you what it needs to become. I never start with a well-rehearsed intellectual idea, because that's a dirty, little secret that no one wants you to know about... Artists aren't intellectuals.

HuffPost Arts: What do you see missing in not only art, but the world in general that you are trying to bring to the table?

WW: A sense of play. We are prideful, defensive creatures and need all the help we can get in breaking through our scabbed-over existences. Again, this relates to the title of the new documentary, "Beauty Is Embarrassing." To be an adult and say you are "playing" it's embarrassing yet it's exactly what we need to do more. It opens us up to the miracle of it all.

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Filed by Andrew Reilly  |