Working South: Paintings and Sketches by Mary Whyte

Overview

In Working South, renowned watercolorist Mary Whyte captures in exquisite detail the essence of vanishing blue-collar professions from across ten states in the American South with sensitivity and reverence for her subjects. From the textile mill worker and tobacco farmer to the sponge diver and elevator operator, Whyte has sought out some of the last remnants of rural and industrial workforces declining or altogether lost through changes in our economy, environment, technology, and fashion. She shows us a ...

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Working South: Paintings and Sketches by Mary Whyte

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Overview

In Working South, renowned watercolorist Mary Whyte captures in exquisite detail the essence of vanishing blue-collar professions from across ten states in the American South with sensitivity and reverence for her subjects. From the textile mill worker and tobacco farmer to the sponge diver and elevator operator, Whyte has sought out some of the last remnants of rural and industrial workforces declining or altogether lost through changes in our economy, environment, technology, and fashion. She shows us a shoeshine man, a hat maker, an oysterman, a shrimper, a ferryman, a funeral band, and others to document that these workers existed and in a bygone era were once ubiquitous across the region.

"When a person works with little audience and few accolades, a truer portrait of character is revealed," explains Whyte in her introduction. As a genre painter with skills and intuition honed through years of practice and toil, she shares much in common with the dedication and character of her subjects. Her vibrant paintings are populated by men and women, young and old, black and white to document the range southerners whose everyday labors go unheralded while keeping the South in business. By rendering these workers amid scenes of their rough-hewn lives, Whyte shares stories of the grace, strength, and dignity exemplified in these images of fading southern ways of life and livelihood.

Working South includes a foreword by Martha Severens, curator of the Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, South Carolina.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This volume is a companion catalog for a traveling exhibition of watercolors inspired by America's fading industrial era and blue-collar laborers painted by South Carolina artist Whyte (Alfreda's World). A brief foreword by Martha Severens (curator, Greenville Cty. Museum of Art), acknowledgements, and an introduction are followed by plate after plate of colorful images of Southerners, who are mostly hard at work as cotton pickers, crabbers, boat builders, textile mill workers, and the like. Accompanying some of the plates are diarylike entries by Whyte that relay her subjective experience of a particular place and/or a poignant conversation she had with a particular sitter. VERDICT Readers interested in watercolor as a medium and in vanishing American industries might enjoy this exhibition and accompanying catalog.—Jennifer H. Pollock, Coll. of DAAP Lib., Univ. of Cincinnati
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570039676
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2011
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 787,966
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 11.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Watercolor artist Mary Whyte is a teacher and author whose figurative paintings have earned national recognition. A resident of Johns Island, South Carolina, Whyte garners much of her inspiration from the Gullah descendents of coastal Carolina slaves who number among her most prominent subjects. Her portraits are included in numerous corporate, private, and university collections, as well as in the permanent collections of South Carolina's Greenville County Museum of Art and the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. Her paintings have been featured in International Artist, Artist, American Artist, Watercolor, and American Art Collector, L'Art de Aquarelle, and numerous other publications. Whyte is the author of Alfreda's World, a compilation of her Gullah paintings, as well as An Artist's Way of Seeing and Watercolor for the Serious Beginner. Her work can be found at Coleman Fine Art in Charleston.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 1, 2012

    Stunning!! One of my favorite books ever!

    Mary Whyte's work is stunning...she is amazingly gifted, both as an artist and as a story teller" This book is beautifully thought out operationalized...this is one art book I will read from start to finish...over and over again!! Ms. Whyte's approach is simple and fresh. I enjoyed learning about her brilliant creative process...and can't wait to experience some of her work in person!!

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  • Posted December 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very Insightful - Mary Whyte has an eye for the soul of her subjects. AWESOME painting and prints. "Water Color Par Excellance"

    I discovered Mary Whytes work after meeting Algie Varn and His impressive wife Sharon. He is a Pinpoint GA Crabber and prior owner of the settlements only industry - The Pinpoint Crab Facctory. Whyte chose the image of Algie for the cover of her work which documents the lives of many of those that lived and worked making the South the Place we Southerners cherish. Her choices of subjects intrigues and Her tallent is remarkable.

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  • Posted May 16, 2011

    Highly recommended

    The paintings by Mary Whyte are exquisite and the additional narrrative about the people and places visited and observed during the creation of this series gives the images Mary painted another dimension that the viewer doesn't often get.

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