The Parrish Art Museum presents Telling Stories: Reframing the Narratives, a robust online exhibition that highlights the role that narrative plays in understanding the world through the work of eight contemporary artists who transform their unique personal histories into participatory dramas.
Through work that references memory and history, fact and fancy, dreams and nightmares, the participating artists in Telling Stories engage in varied approaches to and styles of stories that change by virtue of who is telling them. These artists—working in a variety of media and ranging in age, career stage, geographic location, and heritage—include: JooYoung Choi (American, born Korea, 1983), Jeremy Dennis (Shinnecock/American, born 1990), Jeffrey Gibson (Choctaw-Cherokee/American, born 1972), Elliott Hundley (American, born 1975), Candice Lin (American, born 1979), Mary McCleary (American, born 1951), Jim Shaw (American, born 1952), and Devin Troy Strother (American, born 1986). The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated, 224-page catalogue published by the Parrish Art Museum in 2020 with essays by David Pagel and David Scott Kastan, the George M. Bodman Professor of English at Yale University; an introduction by Parrish Art Museum Director Terrie Sultan; and essays on individual artists by Christopher French, David Pagel, Savannah Petrick, and Terrie Sultan.
“While it may be impossible to present a show with something for everyone, this one aims in that direction: to bring together works whose storylines are unique yet weave together in ways that reveal what it’s like to be alive today,” said Pagel.
Sultan noted, “The current challenges presented by our physical closure have also offered us a wonderful opportunity to explore new ways of thinking about exhibitions, and sharing information and inspiration. This digital Telling Stories is an engaging new delivery method that allows audiences from around the world to see and experience works that are at once joyous and optimistic, deeply thoughtful and stimulating, and that give us new ways of thinking about the stories we tell.”
Originally scheduled to be on view in Spring 2020 at the Museum, prior its temporary closure due to COVID-19, Telling Stories online exhibition explores various themes and concepts through video interviews with Pagel and the artists; essays on the artists by a roster of writers; images of 62 paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and installation; and additional video and audio material. Following the May 15 launch, the exhibition will continue to develop online with additional material, supported by live Friday Night Live! programs featuring artists and curators in conversation.
The topic of narrative has become critically important in contemporary thought as the relentless onslaught of information—real and fake—provides little time for judgement of what is true and valid. At the same time, control over what stories are told, and who can tell them, plays out in every sphere: political, societal, and cultural. These questions are now informing the visual arts, as artists present profound ways of thinking about the relationship between truth and power. The artists represented in Telling Stories—new voices telling new stories—create work that is driven by a narrative that is self-reflective and welcoming of outside input. Filled with immediate, direct, and intimate visual information—with references from K-Pop to Native American history to Ancient Greece to pop culture—these distinct narratives animate the artist’s experiences, raise questions, and invite interpretation.
About David Pagel
Parrish Adjunct Curator David Pagel is an art critic who writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times, and a professor of art theory and history at Claremont Graduate University. Recent publications include Jim Shaw (Lund Humphries, 2019) and Talking Beauty: A Conversation between Joseph Raffael and David Pagel about Art, Life, Death, and Creativity (Zero+, 2019).