Press Release: “Small Arms” – Russ White at Werkspace



Small Arms
Russ White
Closing reception:
Saturday, April 6th, 7 to 10pm
Artist talk: April 6th, 6:30 to 7pm, open to the public
2556 W. Chicago
Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL — It seems at times we are a population utterly terrified of itself. And sometimes rightfully so. The drawings here investigate our fear from different perspectives through several bodies of work: a series of bright, unsettling shooting range targets; a day in the life of a classic American criminal; and a darkly funny take on the anxiety and anonymity of crowds. White’s work uses simple constructions to investigate complicated themes. Criminals, victims, cartoons, and crowds all play a role here in questioning our societal rage and our flawed correlation between violence and justice.

Directly inspired by Trayvon Martin’s death, the targets are a response to the reactionaries and the lunatics among us. While most shooting range targets feature fearsome enemies pointing guns and holding hostages, White’s targets are quite the opposite: terror-struck victims cowering for their lives. The work reminds us of both recent tragedies and everyday violence and questions our comfort with wrath.

In a similar but more comedic vein, the Background Check series asks what the “Thug” from the classic police target does with his time when he’s not shooting at cops. The thick-chested, high-waisted, tracksuit-wearing street tough from the ‘60s is humanized, and, with him, our idea of criminality becomes more nuanced. Drawn in a comic book style on hand-dyed paper, the thugs are a funny reminder not to lose sight of a villain’s humanity.

A native of Mississippi and the Carolinas, White has been living and showing in Chicago since 2004. Based in Humboldt Park with his wife and dog, he also works as a high-end cabinet maker in the Dock 6 Collective.

The artist:

The gallery:
2556 W. Chicago Ave