Cultural Crisis exhibit marries low-brow subject matter with high-end artistry

Seattle artist Anthony White shares one-of-a-kind work

Katherine Camarata, Senior Reporter

Courtesy of Anthony White’s website, (Photo taken by James Harnois)

The hypnotic, technicolor creations of award-winning Seattle artist Anthony White are now on display at the Sarah Spurgeon Art Gallery in Randall Hall, and the work has been captivating community members and inspiring students to think outside the box this quarter.

White graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in 2018 and is represented by the Greg Kucera Gallery. He has shown his work all across the globe in galleries from Chicago to London. 

White received the 2021 Seattle Art Museum Betty Bowen Award, the 2020 Neddy Painting Award and the 2020 Fellowship Award from Artist Trust, according to his website. 

White said his artwork is, “Immediate, all-encompassing, reflective. It captures a lot of contemporary content, and reflects on society, nostalgia, closer-to-home.” 

The exhibit opened on Feb. 15, during a reception attended by approximately 100 people at the gallery following White’s artist talk in the SURC Theatre.

Quiet Hour

“I was really stunned and inspired by the turnout of the opening reception,” White said. “There were a lot of students, faculty and people from the community that showed up, and I was really happy to meet them and talk about the work.”

Heather Horn Johnson, the Sarah Spurgeon Art Gallery manager, said the overall reaction to the exhibit has been positive and students appreciated interacting with White at the opening.

“It seems like a lot of students really enjoyed talking to Anthony, and Anthony is close in age to the students here,” Horn Johnson said. “He was really open to talking to them about developing their work and expressing their own identity through their work in the way that he does.”

Horn Johnson said she is excited to feature White’s perspective and creative vision at CWU.

“The material is unique, and deals a lot with popular culture and all the symbols people use to define themselves,” Horn Johnson said. “It also deals with social media. It talks about how we all experience the world through our phones. There are some images here that deal with queer identity, and it’s nice to have that perspective represented here.”

White’s medium of choice is PLA plastic, commonly-used in 3-D printing. He said he was fascinated with 3-D printing technology when he first encountered it in the fabrication lab at Cornish. 

At the Surface

“It just kind of made sense,” White said. “That’s what I render on panel, becoming realized in real life with very similar or the exact same material.” 

Many of White’s compositions include layers of items and iconography representing certain moments and trends in history. He said he starts each of these works by focusing on a few different objects that craft some sort of narrative.

“Each piece usually starts with a few objects in mind that tell an interesting story or create a very unique shape, or there’s a pun or a joke between a few things that I want to expand on,” White said. “It starts with an interest or curiosity between the first few things and then building off of it is like, ‘Okay, this object tells a funny story with this one and it’s related to that one. There’s a discreet relationship between these two and if you put this one next to that one, there’s a conspiracy theory.’”

White said he has a chaotic yet intimate relationship with his intricate works of art.

“I spend so much time with each piece that I make, they take hundreds of hours per piece,” White said. “I fall in love with them each in a different way, and it’s like a rollercoaster, love-hate, toxic relationship between me and each one.”

Horn Johnson chose to feature White’s self portrait entitled “Quiet Hour” for the materials promoting the exhibit. White said he created “Quiet Hour” during the height of the BLM protests in 2020. 

Freeze Frame

“There was this looming gloom over everything at the time, so I wanted to create a piece that has this figure in a spotlight that’s sort of haunting and ominous but also still and calm,” White said. “That’s where the title gets its name, the stillness of the world at that time and the inner dialogue that everyone was having while there were people fighting for life and taking a stance on a very important cause.”

White said “Quiet Hour” was inspired by the work of American artist Kerry James Marshall, particularly his piece called “Nude in Spotlight.”

When asked to choose his personal favorite pieces of the collection, White said the pieces titled  “Final Fantasy,” “Pay 2 Play,” and “Freeze Frame” were meaningful to him.


Horn Johnson said she hopes the exhibit will have a resounding impact on the community by providing representation for diverse perspectives.

“We want to show different points of view in the gallery and present it as a safe space, where people can come in and they can possibly relate with the artists,” Horn Johnson said.

White said he hopes his work will spark important discussions and inspire students.

“I just hope that it speaks to the audience on the campus, while also encouraging them to tell stories in whatever way they see appropriate,” White said. “Hopefully it encourages them to put things out there that bring communities together to start dialogue and ask questions.”

White’s work is available to view on his website,