CHICAGO -- Eddie Santana White, a Chicago-based artist who is Black and works under the name Edo, was planning to design something from his Infinite Inception brand for the annual Juneteenth holiday on June 19, celebrating the day slavery officially ended in the United States in 1865 when Union troops
CHICAGO -- Eddie Santana White, a Chicago-based artist who is Black and works under the name Edo, was planning to design something from his Infinite Inception brand for the annual Juneteenth holiday on June 19, celebrating the day slavery officially ended in the United States in 1865 when Union troops delivered word to Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended.
But in commissioning a special piece with the White Sox, Edo was able to disseminate his message of "heal society and love infinitely" to an even greater audience.
• Understanding racism and social justice
“Oh, man, it’s everything. I was very excited and grateful,” Edo said of his White Sox piece. “As an artist, I feel we have an obligation and a platform to speak our minds on what’s going on. I’m not a person who shies away from it. I do it in my way.
“My purpose is to help heal and inspire people through my creativity. It means a lot that it gets to be on this platform and more eyes are going to be able to see what I’m trying to say. I know people who are following me and supporting me, and new people, too. They are going to love this piece. It’s really dope.”
Edo’s digital artwork, shown across the White Sox social platforms Friday, was designed to have something to do with Dr. Martin Luther King as well as a White Sox baseball influence mixed in with some Chicago culture. The final product is a portrait of Dr. King, with a background featuring the word “Juneteenth.”
It took Edo 18 hours to create the piece, which he finished around 4 a.m. CT Friday. Some of the things included within the portrait are all of Dr. King's kids’ names, his wife’s name, the emblems and colors from Morehouse College and Boston University where Dr. King attended and a number of motivational words coming from Dr. King. “Things that will inspire the youth,” according to Edo. Viewers also will have a chance to find out more about Dr. King as they study the piece.
“I also did a baseball bat. I did a baseball. I did a Chicago skyline. The Chicago Bean is in there, the Chicago flag ... a baseball field is also in there,” Edo continued. “Everything is kind of tucked away. You really have to look for it.
“There are a lot of different things in that actual piece that it’s like you pretty much are reading a book, but you are just looking at it visually. As I’m creating, I usually write a reference list so you can read it and go through everything and try to find it. I actually was just flowing so crazy, I just let it go. So, when I go look at it, I’m going to be like, ‘I forgot I put that in there.’ It’s cool.”
The White Sox also provided educational material about the history of Juneteenth to its staff and encouraged the front office to spend the day learning and reflecting. Those same employees also were encouraged to participate in a peaceful march within Chicago Friday organized by Pastor Chris Harris, who has a church and related social service organizations in the Bronzeville neighborhood where Guaranteed Rate Field is located.
“[Harris] is a phenomenal person and an unbelievable impactful guy who is really making transformative change in the community and for community residents,” said White Sox vice president of community relations Christine O’Reilly-Riordan. “The fact we encourage White Sox staff members who are able to do so to participate in that rally is a great way to honor the Juneteenth celebration with action.
“There have been a series of marches that these Black church pastors and Black church leaders in Chicago have organized over the past couple of weeks. There [happened] to be one Friday, so what a great opportunity we can share with the staff.”
As a child, Edo spent a couple of tough years in foster homes as his mother and father battled drug addictions. His mother, Gerilynn, has been clean for 30 years and Edo calls her his best friend. His father remains homeless and addicted, although Edo wishes the universe to protect him and send love his way.
That tough situation brought this self-taught artist to where he is today, which in this instance means working on a special Juneteenth creation with the White Sox.
“I’m actually really grateful that those things happened to me,” Edo said. “If they didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have this fire in me to mean something. I feel like I have to mean something here. I’m here to be of service to people and help.”
“His work is absolutely beautiful,” O’Reilly-Riordan said. “He really focuses on color. So, we are really excited that we were able to partner with him to create this piece.”
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.