Blueskying a Social Media Platform for the Arts

Hosted by
the Social Media Narratives Class
Art and Technology Studies
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Facebook and Google Groups
November 7 - 12, 2019

Wendel A. White
Photographer, Distinguished Professor of Art,
Stockton University

image of Wendel W endel A. White was born in Newark, New Jersey and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. He was awarded a BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York and an MFA in photography from the University of Texas at Austin. White taught photography at the School of Visual Arts, NY; The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, NY; the International Center for Photography, NY; Rochester Institute of Technology; and is currently Distinguished Professor of Art & American Studies at Stockton University.

He has received various awards and fellowships including a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Photography, three artist fellowships from the New Jersey State Council for the Arts and grants from Center Santa Fe (Juror’s Choice), the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and a New Works Photography Fellowship from En Foco Inc. His work is represented in museum and corporate collections including: Duke University; the New Jersey State Museum; California Institute for Integral Studies; The Graham Foundation for the Advancement of the Fine Arts; En Foco, New York, NY; Rochester Institute of Technology; The Museum of Fine Art, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; Haverford College, PA; University of Delaware; University of Alabama; and the NYPL Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, NY.

White has served on the board of directors for the Society for Photographic Education, three years as board chair. He has also served on the Kodak Educational Advisory Council, NJ Save Outdoor Sculpture, the Atlantic City Historical Museum, and the New Jersey Black Culture and Heritage Foundation. White was a board member, including three years as board chair, of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. Recent projects include; Red Summer, Manifest, Schools for the Colored, Village of Peace: An African American Community in Israel, Small Towns, Black Lives, and others.

"Mining the archive"

During 1995 I began to construct web based media work as an extension of a more conventional print based media project in narrative photography, Small Towns, Black Lives (1989-2002).

The Black Lives project, which by 1990 had taken on the format of image/text pieces, were an early attempt to create works that addressed the visible and invisible narratives of the Black community in the United States. These works existed in a space that was very much connected to the traditions of documentary photography however, they were also an attempt to conjure the invisible in a manner usually associated with art making outside the use of the cameras lens.

The origins of these documentary photography traditions (image and text) are, for photographers of my generation, often associated with Agee and Evans’ Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (no doubt it was swirling in the back of my brain somewhere), ultimately other works were far more formative. Hughes and DeCarava’s Sweet Flypaper of Life was more current and relevant to my experience as an African American image maker. Wright Morris’ The Inhabitants and Jim Goldberg’s Rich and Poor were other examples of the image/text narratives that created influence.

My earliest efforts in web media were meta-documents that created an interactivity between the photographs and the words, while also revealing the underlying experiences and research. During the first months of 1989, I recorded the conversations with the residents of historically African American communities and conducted research at various archives (National Archive to local county surrogates offices) as a form of inquiry. It was evident that the new tools (1995, web interface) provided an always present graphic space for public access, leading to the gradual inclusion and layering of archival materials, as the foundation for the story. In 2003 I reached the end of that project and the web based media piece of Black Lives ( - Matt Mirapaul provided an assessment -…/arts-online-photographer-captures…

My practice has turned increasingly toward the social justice in social media and the arts (Hank Willis Thomas, Dread Scott, Zanele Muholi, etc.). We are all acutely aware of the racial, gender, political and economic divides within the social media spaces occupied by individuals, institutions and entities that are broadly categorized as “the arts.” These spaces can be useful, filtering out knowledge that is not likely to be be meaningful for a particular individual. Of course the downsides are obvious. “Mining the archive” has become central to my practice, all social media spaces are also data archives.

I want the power to aggregate even more data and to ability to use that data (from the archive) for my work (e.g. Larson Shindelman -

Transcript of Wendel White's Facebook conversation
for the Issues in Social Media for the Arts 2019 panel

Judy Malloy:
Introduction to the Panel

Overviews, Ideas, Histories, and Observations

from: Artists/Educators

Adriene Jenik
Artist, Professor of Intermedia in the School of Art, Arizona State University

Tom Klinkowstein
President, Media A LLC, Professor, Hofstra University, Adj. Professor, Pratt Institute

Wendel A. White
Photographer, Distinguished Professor of Art, Stockton University

from Policy Makers and Advocates

Juana Guzman
National Arts Consultant and Arts Advocate

Dal Yong Jin
Professor, School of Communication at Simon Fraser University

Richard Lowenberg
Founding Director of the 1st-Mile Institute, and of NM Broadband for All

Marisa Parham
Professor of English, Amherst College, Director of the Immersive Reality Lab

Ellen Sandor
Founding Director of (art)n, chair of the Gene Siskel Film Center

from Artists/Designers

Deanne Achong
Artist and Designer

Tommer Peterson
Theatre Artist and Designer

from Curators and Critics

George Fifield
Founder and Director of Boston Cyberarts

Isobel Harbison
Art Critic and Lecturer in the Department of Art

SAIC ATS Class in Social Media Narrative
Vee Nyah Culton, Terrell Davis, Adriana Guillen Santalla, Samuel Han, Xavier Hughes, Yoon Joong Hwang, Olivia Paige Johnson, Mara Iskander Mirzan, Keun Mok Park, Richard Park, Wayne P. Tate, Ruby Hana Williams, and July Yoon

SAIC ATS Part-time Faculty: Judy Malloy