Chris Whittey, MFA
Vennerberg Chair of Art
Art Historian Frazer Ward writes that, in "One Hand Washes the Other", “Christopher Whittey painstakingly produced, one at a time, 16,000 fingers, the average number of digits lost every year in industrial accidents in the US. Represented here by photographs, along with a set of ironic, fake OSHA safety plaques, the mass of fingers served as a shockingly direct reminder of the costs of work that are too often taken for granted. It also recast artistic labor in industrial terms: mechanical, arduously repetitive, boring. In their industrial aspect, the fingers suggest the repetitions of Minimalism, and in their literalness, those of Pop, but they are ultimately restless in relation to either.”
Whittey is currently the Department Head of Art, Graphic Design and Art History, Vennerberg Chair of Art and Professor of Studio Art at Oklahoma State University. Prior to this he served as the Alan F. Rothschild Distinguished Chair of Art at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia. Other appointments have included Senior Vice President of Faculty Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean at Maine College of Art (MECA), and Dean of Academic Services at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where he served as faculty from 2001-2009.
After studying at the College for Creative Studies and receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Wayne State University, Whittey worked as a master carpenter building stage sets and props in New York for such prestigious venues as the Metropolitan Opera, Saturday Night Live, and The Conan O'Brien Show. In 1989, he returned to complete his formal education at the Rhode Island School of Design and received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in 1991. The following year, Whittey was selected to attend the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.