Infinite Possibilities – The Art Career of Edo White

By Patricia Andrews-Keenan

Eddie Santana “Edo” White first put acrylic to canvas in 2017. By December of 2018 he was showing his work on the rooftop of the Penthouse event space in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood during the most important four days on the U.S. art calendar – Art Basel Miami. Each December, the art world beats a path to Miami, where art is everywhere. In every gallery and event space and backyard within 30 miles of the city. The crème de la crème is in Miami Beach where Art Basel has been holding court since the early 2000s. Last year James Murdoch, the son of the billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, purchased a significant stake in the Swiss owners of the Art Basel fairs.

But I digress, the point is this artist, just 26 years old at the time of the exhibition, has segued from creating digital art for clothing and shoe brands, to being part of the fine art world food chain. The 2018 show, produced by Pigment International™ was an against all odds entry into the art fray, started just that year by three women over age 50. Edo joined as the youngest member of the group of 15 Chicago artists exhibiting in the show.

The first thing that greets you is Edo’s hair. His locs when unfurled, reach far down his back. His loose-fitting outfit – denim, tees, sneaks - are de rigueur urban streetwear all of which Edo designs himself. His sneakers never match because he hands paints each pair. His tats are impressive, especially the infinity symbols which I’ll get to later. But it is the earnestness of his conversation, the determination in his voice, the compassion he has for people that pulls you in. Edo has a vision! Edo’s life, as the writer Langston Hughes said, “ain’t been no crystal stair.’

There has been homelessness, parental neglect, alcohol. Yet Edo floats above all of that and sees a future centered around art, creation, and changing the world. After all creativity remains the only thing we can truly own he believes. We hear lots of talk about ‘personal brand’, but Edo’s brand is literally ‘Infinite’. Just like the symbol tattooed at his temple, from whence all his ideas flow forth. Infinite Inception Art is his commercial brand that appears on shirts, shoes, watches, water bottles, prints, and now on canvas.

His paintings are intricate and rendered not linearly, but in a meandering path full of color and symbolism, all carrying a depth of thought and well-researched meaning. Watching him free hand the seeming puzzle pieces that become one image is mesmerizing. Take his oversized homage to Marvel icon Stan Lee, in his piece Excalibur. There are 99 references to Stan Lee’s life and career woven into the work. The painting comes with a legend to guide you through each symbol, which includes Thor’s Hammer, Nick Fury’s Eye Patch and Dark Phoenix’s Wing. The same for his piece “Infinite Grace” charting the life and “female badassery” of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. In the painting you can see the Third Eye, an Ankh, and the Egyptian Flag alongside the Pan African Flag.

Edo wants his paintings to surprise you every time you see them, no matter if it has been hanging in your home two months or two years. The sci-fi nerd – he has two stuffed baby Yodas – sees the ‘Infinite’ possibility of the world. And despite being part of the foster care system, and taking his turn at being homeless – he refers to the homeless as “Free Beings” - optimism oozes from his pores. Edo wants to change the world and leave his imprint everywhere.

He sees KAWS levels of reach and influence for himself. Like Andy Warhol before him Edo “wants to be a machine.” And you can see his dream too, just as if that ‘Infinite’ tattoo transmitted the rightness of that ambition directly to you. Since that fateful first trip to Miami, Edo joined Pigment International again in 2019 for the Spectrum Art Show in Miami’s Wynwood District where he and the crystal artist, Mr. Bling Colombia began concocting a collaboration.

In Chicago, his work has been seen at the Logan Center on the University of Chicago campus, the DuSable Museum during October’s Black Fine Art Month, and most recently at Epiphany Center for the Arts. There he showcased a series called World of Fantasy featuring the pieces Over There, Down There, Up Here, and That Way, the ‘Infinite’ working overtime. ‘Infinite Grace’ was featured at a pre-covid event hosted by Common at Chicago’s MCA and again this year in a Japanese culture magazine. She now has a home where the owners are no doubt still decoding all the embedded messages. WTTW’s Jay Shefsky captured some Edo magic for a piece on Channel 11, and his dreds were showcased in a hair magazine.

He has plans to do portraits of his ‘free beings’ and share a portion of the proceeds with them. The future is limitless. In addition to that future of world domination, he has one deeply held personal wish. “My kids will grow up knowing how much their father put into his passion and purpose, says the currently childless artist. That’s a beautiful thing to come to grips with.” IG - Sidebar The Infinite possibilities of NFTs The world has lost its mind for NFTs. Non-fungible tokens have taken the art world by storm and artists of color in the space