The Parrish’s first online exhibition, the project launches Friday, May 15

with a live talk with Adjunct Curator David Pagel and Museum Director Terrie Sultan

Catalogue cover for Telling Stories: Reframing the Narratives, Parrish Art Museum, 2020.


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. The first online exhibition created by the Museum, the project launches Friday, May 15 at 5pm with a live presentation by Parrish Adjunct Curator David Pagel and Museum Director Terrie Sultan.

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.

“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 the Artists

Born in South Korea and adopted by New Hampshire family, JooYoung Choi conflates adult concepts of belonging and cultural displacement with the magical thinking of a child in her hand-sewn tableau, collages, and installations that combine reality and fantasy. The cornerstone of the five works in the exhibition is the installation Like a Bolt out of the Blue, Faith Steps in and Sees You Through (2019)—a fanciful landscape inhabited by benevolent monsters and larger-than-life female figures that reference cultural mainstays of American childhood like Sesame Street and The Wizard of Oz.

A member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton, New York, fine art photographer Jeremy Dennis creates supernatural digital collages inspired by myths, legends, his experience of the present, and his visions for the future. Prints from Dennis’s Rise series (2017–present) allude to a subtle fear of Native people that exists today, as indigenous men emerge from the water to tip a summer camper out of his canoe in Wake (2018) and crawl out of the sand to abduct a bikini-clad beachgoer in Beach Trip (2018). As in many of Dennis’s works, the artist’s own likeness represents the male characters—a Native American everyman whose presence is inconvenient yet insistent.

Of Choctaw-Cherokee heritage and raised in Germany, South Korea, and England, Jeffrey Gibson creates work that combines Native arts with European-derived modernism in conversations about social conflict and personal history. Geometric abstraction grounded in formal painting and drawing techniques is contrasted with craftwork of weaving, beading, and assemblage in a social commentary on Native American history. American pop culture is referenced with titles borrowed from songs including Bob Marley’s SUN IS SHINING—a kaleidoscopic painting adorned with glass beads and felt.

References in Los Angeles-based artist Elliott Hundley’s work pull from his Southern heritage and family history, Greek tragedy, politics, and pop culture. Hundley creates dense, complex scenarios that mimic the deluge of information in the digital age. In Tabloid (2018), news pages, grocery flyers, and sci-fi comic book covers provide the backdrop for fashion model cutouts, product shots, and words literally ripped from the headlines in a visual essay on celebrity.

New England-born conceptual artist Candice Lin draws on the arts and sciences and everything that lies between to stimulate new insight into identity and history, gender and sexuality, aesthetics and politics. The artist unearths facts and stories, bringing them to light in drawings, collages, sculptures, and installations. The cross cultural Divination Board (2019)—a collage of tobacco leaves, dried beans, hand-copied diagrams, and images of mythical beasts and talismans—documents some of the ways people have sought, across cultures and continents, to see beyond the obvious to the reality that lies beneath.

Mary McCleary’s three dimensional collages depict images of everyday life—a vase of flowers, a woman smoking, a family in the living room. A closer look reveals narratives layered with symbolism and visual clues referencing history, literature, art, and Christianity, as well as the multitude of ordinary materials and found objects she painstakingly pieces together. String, cardboard, glitter, sticks, beads, wire, and plastic toys, and even dryer lint are given a higher purpose in McCleary’s visual narratives, such as the magnificent flower bouquet in Telling the Bees (2017).

Since 1995, Jim Shaw has been making paintings and sculptures based on his dreams, transforming nonsensical stories into multifaceted and multilayered commentaries on contemporary life that conflate dreaming and waking states. In Dream Object (Irregularly Shaped Canvas: Forces of nature; Jim Shaw in pain; Hoover vacuum cleaner; rendered milky fluid), (2010), the artist includes his own likeness—a spooked black and white figure engulfed in a tempest created by a Hoover Constellation vacuum. The title refers to Shaw in the third person, pegging him as a witness to his own inescapable nightmare.

Raised in Pasedena, Devin Troy Strother (American, b. 1986) combines bright colors, paper dolls, and storybook–style illustrations with African American imagery to create untold narratives that are immediately appealing yet belie complex, controversial topics including race relations, the legacy of slavery, and the mythology of the black athlete. In a new mixed media work on panel—this shit is not a game, oh wait i’m sorry this is a game and i’m kinda doing just for the fame, does that sound lame? (2020)—black, pink, and yellow skinned basketball players are equally depicted with exaggerated physical attributes (such as over-stretched Gumby-doll limbs) to the extent that they diminish the playing field.

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).


The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated, 224-page catalogue published by the Parrish Art Museum with essays by David Pagel, Parrish Adjunct Curator and Professor of Art Theory and History, Claremont Graduate University, 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.

Telling Stories: Reframing the Narratives is made possible, in part, thanks to the generous support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Fund for Publications, Linda Hackett and Melinda Hackett/ CAL Foundation, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Nancy and Erik Littlejohn, Sandy and Stephen Perlbinder, Herman Goldman Foundation, Leigh and Reggie Smith, and Moody Gallery, Houston, TX. Public Funding provided by Suffolk County.


Parrish Art Museum

Inspired by the natural setting and artistic life of Long Island’s East End, the Parrish Art Museum illuminates the creative process and how art and artists transform our experiences and understanding of the world and how we live in it. The Museum fosters connections among individuals, art, and artists through care and interpretation of the collection, presentation of exhibitions, publications, educational initiatives, programs, and artists-in-residence. The Parrish is a center for cultural engagement, an inspiration and destination for the region, the nation, and the world.



Parrish Art Museum construction photographs © Jeff Heatley.


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