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Meet Adrian White

Today we’d like to introduce you to Adrian White. 

Hi Adrian, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
Born and raised in a small tobacco town of Stantonsburg, North Carolina. 

I’m a graduate of North Carolina Central University with a degree in English Literature. I went on to the military and was a photojournalist/broadcaster/combat photographer. I was in Haiti during the huge earthquake in 2010–a real life-changing moment for me. It’s tough to see people that look like you suffer, but you do everything you can to help. My way to offer a helping hand was to get their story out to the rest of the world hoping that would translate into government aid. I have so many stories from that time. 

I’ve been all over the world and went on to graduate from Brooks Institute of Photography with a BFA in Professional Photography and then Parsons School of Design with an MFA in Photography and related media. 

Now I’m a college professor teaching classes at California Baptist University, Santa Ana College, and currently preparing a photojournalism course for ArtCenter Pasadena. I also am the Board President at SoLa Contemporary. My entire life has been in service to others and I continue to do more of the same as I venture out in the world finding my tribe. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It’s a long journey with lots of twists and turns. Life ain’t no crystal stair, and it ain’t got no straight path. I’m a country boy. Like country. Surviving the toughness and hardness of military culture has been the toughest. Unless you walk in a Black man’s shoes it can be difficult to understand, but we must really work harder than almost everybody in the country except for the black woman. You got to work harder than everybody else, and there never seems there is time to rest and rejuvenate so I’m getting better at that. Finding balance in a world that places an emphasis on working hard and making the mighty dollar. I’m getting better at balance, rest, and rejuvenation. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I know how to connect with my subject. I start conversations. I do research, and then I create. I believe in collaboration. I work with a spirit of collaboration. I’m mostly an image maker, and my tool is my camera and a scanner. I’ve won a few IPAs International Photography Awards). I’m pretty proud of that. I worked on a project called Pickled Memories while working on my thesis at Parsons School of Design and won 1st Place for that. Here’s a link from Oxford American about that project. 

I also believe the teaching and mentoring is an extension of my artistic process. As artists we communicate our ideas to the world. As a professor and arts administrator, I do much of the same. One of my biggest accomplishments here in Los Angeles has been SoLa Contemporary’s Creative Exchange program. I mentored six emerging artists, and they had an exhibition highlighting their work. It’s since been rebranded as SEED, and we will be taking new artists for the upcoming calendar year really soon. 

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
As a kid, I was soft, but that didn’t last long. The world has a way of changing that. As I got older, I began playing sports. I was a middle linebacker and guard. I loved hitting. Loved the sound after the big hit. Not just the smack but that sound the crown made from the packed bleachers. That got me going. I also ran track and wrestled, but football was my sport. I set the school record in wrestling at the time when I pinned an opponent in six seconds. Playing sports taught me how to be a leader, but my big brother gets most of the credit. Big brothers are so important to little brothers. And I thought my big brother was the coolest. Big brothers teach us the stuff that mama and daddy would never. They teach you how to be a man. We fought. We slap-boxed. He taught me how to dress. That’s a lesson that I’m still working on. 

Big brothers are our first mentor. 

I was inquisitive. I always asked a lot of questions, and that has served me well in my adult love. I’m a big ole nerd with swagger. 

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