Special event:
Saturday, July 25,
Storytelling through objects: Eduardo Gil, Alisha Wessler and Brett Day Windham in conversation with Shlomit Dror
RSVP here

As a closing event for the group exhibition 
Story of a Story, this conversation will highlight the works of three artists who use found objects in their work as a way of presenting narratives. Working with a range of materials while not including text, plots or characters, the arrangement of which these artists display these items function as literary devices, sharpening and deepening the act of looking and “reading into things.” The story behind each object either documents a specific moment or is suggestive of fictitious scenarios, challenging both the object’s and the narrative’s origin and authenticity.



Storytelling is a universal desire of which sharing experiences, whether pertaining to heritage, traveling journeys, or day-to-day accounts, is a natural habit we communicate in many ways, including oral traditions, or more prominently today on social media. Personal and collective stories expressed through speech, text, objects and visual documentation, connect readers or listeners with places and moments that the author may present as fictional, real, or both. The exhibition Story of a Story explores different ways narratives are conveyed, shared, heard and retold and also examines the roles of both the narrator and the reader/listener. Narratives are a powerful form of communication, where the individual's voice can change and transform existing realities through descriptions, expressions and structure. The exhibition's diversity in point of view and narrators' approach look at notions of communication through narrative and language, and also investigate the purpose of storytelling.

Representing the use of narrative in different ways, artists such as Kwantaeck Park offer scenes from everyday life and personal encounters, while artists like Samantha Fein, Jeremy Jams and Margaret Lee create fictive situations and at times blur the lines between reality and fiction. Using reenactment as a form of storytelling, Karina Aguilera Skvirsky and Hadassa Goldvicht embody other characters as a way to examine the narrative of the other through multiple perspectives: their own and the character they portray. Several of the artworks in the show are autobiographical, where artists such as Masha Vlasova and Stass Shpanin integrate primary sources and archival materials, exposing their identity and background, while at the same time addressing broader historical contexts. In this regards, individual accounts that differ from one another may also share common themes and bear similar descriptions, resulting from collective memory and shared experiences. Jisun Beak and Bruce Campbell incorporate satire and in their work reference old, historical narratives where they examine the power of language and the individual voice. The show also includes works by artists Eduardo Gil, Alisha Wessler and Brett Day Windham who use mundane and displaced objects in their works as a form of language and a literary device, exploring the objects' previous and unknown history, where in some cases viewers can invent, imagine and reconstruct their own fictional story. When found objects replace or function as text, stories become fragmented, improvisational and open-ended, amassing layers of interpretations and offering multiple perspectives. 

In the exhibition Story of a Story, the artists are chroniclers who examine the relationship between language and narrative, truth and fiction, narrators and readers/listeners. The works in the show also pay close attention to the interpretive process that in turn offers an extension to the narrative and the work. Story of a Story's thirteen artists present a range of narratives that are told through painting, sculpture, photography and video.

Image: Alisha Wessler, After the Soldiers and Shrikes, 2015, Honey locust thorns, dimensions variable.

This exhibition is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, New York City Council Member Stephen Levin, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and with generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Lambent Foundation, Gilbert Mackay Foundation, Select Equity Group Foundation, many individuals and Smack Mellon’s Members. 

Smack Mellon’s programs are also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and with generous support from The Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of The New York Community Trust, The Roy and Niuta Titus Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Richard J. Massey Foundation for the Arts & Sciences, The Robert Lehman Foundation, The Greenwich Collection Ltd, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation Inc., The O’Grady Foundation, and Exploring The Arts. 

Space for Smack Mellon’s programs is generously provided by the Walentas family and Two Trees Management.