A British born American sculptor known internationally for his realistic and engaging bronzes of people has been named the United States Sports Academy’s 2016 Sport Artist of the Year, Sculptor.
Sculptor Steven Whyte, 47, has received acclaim for his highly detailed and stirring works on the dynamic spectacle of athleticism. These include his 13-foot monument of 1957 Heisman Trophy winner John David Crow for Texas A&M University, the first Heisman winner in the storied history of Aggie football. The work is now a focal point at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field.
The success of the Crow sculpture won Whyte a second commission with Texas A&M for a monument to the tradition of their ferociously dedicated student fans, referred to as the “12th Man.” The “War Hymn Memorial” is a slightly larger than life-sized monument in which twelve A&M students are linking shoulders and feet in the midst of their “War Hymn cheer.” The 36-foot-long work now graces the entrance to the newly renovated Kyle Field stadium.
Additional athletic works include former National Football League Coach Tony Dungy’s “Uncommon Award,” which he gives to individuals for their “uncommon leadership through character and faith,” a tabletop sculpture which depicts Dungy’s father Wilbur Dungy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Dungy’s college coach Cal Stoll. Whyte also sculpted the life-sized Jumbo the Elephant mascot at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.
“I am primarily a sculptor of people, a historian, recording a likeness and creating characters of yesterday’s community and today’s society for tomorrow’s viewer,” Whyte said. “I manipulate clay to found into bronze for the consideration by an audience, in the home, the street and the gallery.”
Whyte’s distinguished sculpture career has encompassed the majesty of monuments, the elegance of gallery editions, and the refined detail of portraiture.
Born in Amesbury, England, Whyte was the only undergraduate student ever accepted to the prestigious Sir Henry Dalton School of Sculpture. Attention to detail is the essence of portrait sculpture and the young artist grew to be a master of identifying and capturing the nuances of expression that define individuality and spirit. His talent attracted the attention of leading members of Britain’s political, cultural and business spheres.
He taught at Stafford College and continued to hone his craft. Whyte’s efforts were recognized on an international level when he was invited at age 24 to become the youngest-ever member of the London based Society of Portrait Sculptors. The artist was elected vice president of the prestigious organization and worked in tandem with the sculptor to the British Royal Family.
The arena for Whyte’s work increased dramatically after he was awarded numerous commissions for public monuments to capture the emotions of the British people, including “The Silverdale Mining Memorial,” which honored the fatalities of the town’s mining disasters; “The Lance Sergeant Jack Baskeyfield Victoria Cross Tribute” honoring World War II soldiers, located in Hanley, England; and “The Spirit of 1948,” which depicted the heroism of fire and rescue workers in Staffordshire.
In 2003 Whyte relocated from England to the United States and currently operates an open studio and gallery in the coastal town of Carmel, Calif., one of the most respected artistic communities in the nation. He regularly shares the creative process with visitors as he sculpts from his Steven Whyte Sculpture Studio, which has become a destination and landmark for art lovers from around the world. The gallery has been featured on CNN, in The San Francisco Chronicle and in The New York Times, among others.
His monuments in the United States include the exceedingly popular “National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military” in San Diego, Calif. Featuring the central figure of Bob Hope, the legendary comedian is surrounded by service men and women, all historically accurate from different periods and branches of the military, representing each conflict that Hope had performed as part of the United Service Organizations (USO).
Whyte has sculpted Martin Luther King, Jr. monuments in Fontana, California, and Hollywood, Florida; St. Anthony of Padua in Carmel, Calif.; “Tribute to Fallen Deputies” in San Diego, Calif.; and the “National Monument to John Steinbeck and Cannery Row” in Monterey, Calif., to name a few.
Throughout his public monument career Whyte has continued in his dedication to portrait sculpture. Former NFL head coach, player and ESPN analyst Herm Edwards commissioned Whyte for a portrait for his collection. Edward remarked, “Steven’s work embodies the phrase, ‘a passion for excellence.’ His sculptures speak for themselves, but in my opinion they are beautiful and unique pieces of art.”
With numerous private commissions, he expanded his range by producing new portraits of U.S. presidents, beginning with many founding fathers. Whyte’s representations of Lincoln, Jefferson and others have become sought after for the collections of some of the nation’s most influential leaders, including former Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, who displayed his Lincoln bust in his office at the Pentagon.
The Sport Artist of the Year is part of the United States Sports Academy’s Awards of Sport, which each year serve as “A Tribute to the Artist and the Athlete.” The Academy presents the awards to pay tribute to those who have made significant contributions to sport, in categories as diverse as the artist and the athlete in several different arenas of sport. The awards honor exemplary achievement in coaching, all-around athletic performance, courage, humanitarian activity, fitness, and media, among others. The Academy’s American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) annually recognizes these men and women through its Sport Artist of the Year, Honorary Doctorates, Distinguished Service Awards, Medallion Series, Outstanding Athletes, Team of the Year and Alumni of the Year awards.
Whyte and other awardees will be honored in the Academy’s annual Awards of Sport program on 10 November 2016 on campus.
Based in Daphne, Ala., the United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, regionally accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.
By Keith Ayers
Keith Ayers is the Director of Communications at the United States Sports Academy. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.