Skip to main content

Regarded as one of the great American novels, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851) presents an allegorical story that has been reinterpreted over the past 168 years and still holds a prophetic power over our collective imagination. Scholars have long debated its interpretations of humanity’s dangerous search for meaning; conflict between good and evil; the struggle between individualism and socialism, between science and nature; the capitalistic quest for profits at any cost; and the triumphs and failings of American values.

Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick examines the work of six contemporary artists—Corey Arnold, Guy Ben-Ner, Patty Chang, Tristin Lowe, Allan Sekula, and Frank Stella—who act as epic storytellers as they respond to, challenge, and celebrate the allegories presented in Melville’s literary classic through large-scale sculpture, photography, prints, and video made since 1985. These artists were selected for the epic nature of their own searching: the bodies of work on view represent a similar tome-like status in each artist’s oeuvre—they were either painstakingly created over multiple years or were executed on an epic scale warranted by a novel like Moby-Dick. These artists’ work encourages dialogue about ecology and nature, economics and industry, human psychology and emotion.

The exhibition comprises four major temporary exhibition galleries in the Jepson Center. Steward South and Kane Gallery: November 1, 2019-February 16, 2020. Levitt and Varnedoe Galleries: October 11, 2019-January 26, 2020.


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

Exhibition support provided by: Kelley and Josh Keller, Sylvaine and David Neises Fund for Exhibitions, and Susan G. and Thomas V. Reilly Fund for Exhibitions.

Annual exhibition support provided by Director’s Circle Council Members:


Bob Faircloth

Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson


Jules and Doug Bain

Mr. and Mrs. Dale C. Critz, Jr.

Mr. and Mrs. Dale C. Critz, Sr.

Alice and Bob Jepson

Mr. and Mrs. Theodore J. Kleisner
Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Levy

Wilson and Linda Fisk Morris

Cathy and Philip Solomons
Pamela L. and Peter S. Voss

Mr. and Mrs. Dwaine L. Willett

Ms. Susan Willetts and Mr. Alan K. Pritz


Dr. Victor L. Andrews

Malcolm and Julia Butler

Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Coker, Jr.

Jan and Lawrence Dorman

Dr. David M. Hillenbrand

Mr. and Mrs. Angus C. Littlejohn

Dr. and Mrs. William T. Moore

Dave and Sylvaine Neises

Mr. C.B. Richardson

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Roelle

Carl and Barbara Sassano

Jacqueline and Ken Sirlin


Melissa and Kelly Bouchillon

Mr. and Mrs. Gary T. Capen

Leda Chong and Kevin Dewalt

Mr. and Mrs. F. Reed Dulany III

Lindsay and Brent Harlander

Mr. and Mrs. Patrick J. Haynes III

Mr. and Mrs. Myron Kaminsky

Kelley and Josh Keller

Mrs. Robert O. Levitt

Carolyn Luck

Linda and Tom McWhorter

Courtney and Jay Neely

Mr. and Mrs. David E. Paddison

Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Rabinowitz

Thomas V. and Susan G. Reilly

Ms. Swann Seiler

Randall and Valerie Stolt

Mr. and Mrs. John L. Tucker

Mailing Address
Telfair Museums
PO Box 10081
Savannah, GA 31412
Phone Number
eNewsletter Signup
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
© 2019 Telfair Museums. All rights reserved.