'Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick' highlights six artists

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'Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick' highlights six artists
The artists in this exhibition were selected as a result of the epic, Moby-Dick-like nature of their own work, with some pieces painstakingly created over multiple years and others executed on a large scale.

SAVANNAH, GA.- A 52-foot-long felt whale by artist Tristin Lowe made its way to the Jepson Center this fall, holding space alongside works by internationally renowned artists.

Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick, on view at the Jepson Center from November 1, 2019 through January 26, 2020, examines the work of six contemporary artists—Corey Arnold (American, b. 1976), Guy Ben-Ner (Israeli, b. 1969), Patty Chang (American, b. 1972), Tristin Lowe (American, b. 1966), Allan Sekula (American, 1951-2013), and Frank Stella (American, b. 1936)—who respond to, challenge, and celebrate ideas presented in Herman Melville’s literary classic Moby-Dick.

The artists in this exhibition were selected as a result of the epic, Moby-Dick-like nature of their own work, with some pieces painstakingly created over multiple years and others executed on a large scale. Highlights of the exhibition include Lowe’s Mocha Dick (2009) a 52-foot-long, ghostly white whale made out of industrial wool felt that has the scale, volume, an attention to biological detail of an actual sperm whale; a selection of 18 prints from Stella’s Moby Dick series, made from 1985–1997; and Ben-Ner’s Moby Dick (2000), a playful response to the novel through video storytelling.

“As we celebrate the bicentennial of Melville’s birth this year, Moby-Dick is more prophetic today in 2019 than it was upon its first publishing, where it went all but unnoticed until well after Melville’s death,” said Rachel Reese, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Telfair Museums. “Melville was writing about whales, but he was also writing about the human condition. Importantly, the artists’ work in this exhibition encourages conversations about everything from our global port city here in Savannah to contemporary topics such as race, religion, ecology, and nature.”

“I’m so excited to be sharing Mocha Dick with audiences in Savannah, along with other works by major artists including Frank Stella,” Lowe said. “When Mocha Dick came into being 10 years ago, it was an incredible experience collaborating with the team at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. We all embarked on a journey to recreate a mythical creature, a legend. Since that time I’ve been able to share this work with the public all over the country, and each time its incites a truly surreal experience with every individual who encounters it. Mocha Dick represents an opportunity to self-reflect on our human impact on the natural world: by staring into its eye, it becomes almost as a looking glass. I was drawn to the subject of Melville’s Moby-Dick as it operates on a multitude of levels - it foretells the effects and costs of capitalism, the dawn the industrial revolution, the birth of the petroleum industry and its toll on a New Worlds' democratic origins and the soul of mankind.”

Corey Arnold (American, b. 1976) holds a BFA in Photography from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco, CA and also studied at Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, AZ. Arnold lives and works most of the year in Portland, OR in additional to traveling frequently for commercial fishing expeditions. His photographs have been exhibited worldwide and published in Harpers, The Guardian, VICE, The New Yorker, New York Times LENS, Art Ltd, Rolling Stone, Time, Outside, National Geographic, Mare, Whitewall and The Paris Review, among others. Arnold has published two books of photography by Nazraeli Press including Fish-Work: The Bering Sea, and Fishing with My Dad. Arnold is represented by Charles A. Hartman Fine Art in Portland, Oregon, Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica and commercially by Redeye Represents in Los Angeles.

Guy Ben-Ner (Israeli, b. 1969): Guy Ben-Ner holds a BA in Education (1997) from Hamidrasha School of Art, Ramat Hasharon and an MFA from Columbia University in New York City (2003). At Columbia, he studied under the art critic Jerry Saltz. Ben-Ner lives and works in Tel Aviv and New York. In 2005, he organized the Israeli Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Guy Ben-Ner has had numerous gallery and museum exhibitions, including at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and at the The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery of Skidmore College. Ben-Ner is represented by Postmasters Gallery, New York.

Patty Chang (American, b. 1972): Patty Chang holds a BA from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. Her work has been exhibited nationwide and internationally at such institutions as The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; New Museum, New York; BAK- basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, the Netherlands; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Fri-Art Centre d’Art Contemporain Kunsthalle, Fribourg, Switzerland; Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester, England; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. Chang has received grants from Creative Capital, the New York Foundation for the Arts, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Tides Foundation, and Guggenheim Foundation. Most recently, Chang participated in the 2016 Shanghai Biennale. She lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

Tristin Lowe (American, b. 1966): Tristin Lowe holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and studied at Parsons School of Design and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He has exhibited his work extensively in Philadelphia, including at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, Vox Populi, Girard College, The Rosenbach Museum and Library, The Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, Basekamp, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, The Project Room, Abington Art Center, and Nexus Foundation for Today’s Art. He has exhibited nationally and internationally at Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin; New Langton Arts, San Francisco; University of California, San Diego; Hudson D. Walker Gallery, Provincetown; Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia; and the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Switzerland. He has been awarded a Pew Fellowship, Provincetown Fine Art Work Center Fellowship, The Fabric Workshop and Museum Residency, and Girard College Residency. He was co-founder and co-director of the non-profit gallery Blohard. Lowe’s work is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and The West Collection, as well as other private collections. He lives and works in Philadelphia.

Allan Sekula (American, 1951-2013): Allan Sekula was a renowned photographer, theorist, historian of photography, and writer. His work concerns the consequences of the economic changes arising from globalization and questions the function of documentary photography in the media, in art and in society. Sekula had a unique, intelligent, and formally rigorous perspective toward the tradition of social or critical realism, a photographic lineage that stretches back to Lewis Hine. Often depicting labor within the workplace, he developed a visual language, which describes people both in their individuality and in a more human condition. His work is in the collections of such institutions as J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Museo de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and Tate, London, UK.

Frank Stella (American, b. 1936): Frank Stella was born in Malden, Massachusetts. After attending high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, he went on to Princeton University, where he painted and majored in history. Stella’s work was included in several important exhibitions that defined 1960s art, among them the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s The Shaped Canvas (1964–65) and Systemic Painting (1966). The Museum of Modern Art in New York first presented a retrospective of Stella’s work in 1970, and his art has been the subject of several retrospectives in the United States, Europe, and Japan.

Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick is organized by Telfair Museums and curated by Rachel Reese, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

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