X’s & U’s

Accomplished Alumnus Wade Guyton finds art in technology.

Untitled sculpture by Wade Guyton

Untitled sculpture by Wade Guyton

In an artist’s toolbox, there are many instruments: paint, brushes, pencils, clay. One might think that a computer, a scanner, and a wide-format printer wouldn’t fit there, but Accomplished Alumnus Wade Guyton (’95) would disagree.

Guyton’s use of nontraditional materials and media has earned him much praise and exhibitions throughout Europe. Recently, he became the first UT alumnus to feature work at the world-renowned Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

The exhibition, Wade Guyton OS, was a mid-career survey of Guyton’s art. Included in the exhibit were pieces that perhaps began as a page in a book that he ripped out, scanned, molded to his liking, and printed on his Epson Stylus. He also favors the use of X’s and U’s in his work, and any glitches, globs, or smears that result from printing become part of his art.

Untitled work by Wade Guyton

Untitled work by Wade Guyton

As an elementary school student in Lake City, Tennessee, Guyton says he didn’t have the feel for drawing, so he let his stepfather complete his art assignments. It was at UT that Guyton says he was “seduced by art.” As a member of the College Scholars program, he was able to tailor his coursework to accommodate his desire to become an artist. He earned a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in fine arts and cultural theory.

Guyton left for New York City in 1996, studied at Hunter College, and worked at the Dia Art Foundation and a local bookstore. When the foundation closed its doors, Guyton moved to a studio in the East Village. His small space quickly filled up with materials for sculptures, and space was scarce, so he began working with paper. He bought notebooks but couldn’t figure out what exactly to do with the paper.

Wade Guyton

Wade Guyton

“I started tearing out pages of books and magazines that were around the studio and started making marks on them or just X-ing out images,” Guyton told The New York Times. “Then I realized that the process of drawing didn’t make sense to me. The labor didn’t match up to what I was trying to do. And I thought the printer could make these things better than I could.”

Guyton has maintained strong ties with the School of Art at UT. He has recommended artists to participate in its highly competitive Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program and in exhibitions at local galleries. Most recently, he and fellow alumni artists Meredyth Sparks (’94) and Josh Smith (’98) have launched an initiative to curate and produce a series of three limited-edition art boxes of artwork by selected UT alumni and former AIRs to help the school’s fundraising effort to endow the AIR program.

“I would not be an artist,” says Guyton, “if it were not for my UT experience.”

Cassandra J. Sproles

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