During her lecture, Wendy White talked about how important it is to her that her canvases be handmade. Later on, in an interview, she said that she used an airbrush because seeing brush-strokes made her feel sick, she hated them so much. She didn’t want her hand to be visible. I asked her about this apparent contradiction in an interview but never got a clear answer. I have been thinking about this ever since, trying to decide if there actually is a contradiction and whether there is a difference between the handmade and the artist’s hand.
First of all, craftsmanship is extremely important to Wendy White. She fabricates everything herself, but is able to steer clear of the DIY aesthetic. And, making the components of her work herself gives White a level of control over the final product that is just not possible any other way. The craftsmanship is so good that you don’t notice how it is made and then get bogged down in thinking about it. When an artist intentionally makes things look hand-made, they are in dialogue with conversations between low and high art, craft, and art history. White avoids this conversation by having impeccably crafted work.
The materials and processes that White uses are associated with sign-making or commercial house-painting rather than with fine-art. In commercial sign-painting there is never the question of who the artist is, or what their intent is. In contrast, when we see a visible brush-stroke in a painting, we can’t help but think about the artist as a person. In this sense, the artist’s hand becomes an important part of the work, a third party between the work and the viewer. By rejecting the hand painted mark in favor of the airbrush, White takes herself out of the picture and allows the work to speak on its own terms.