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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 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.


This is a time-lapse video of the installation of "Mocha Dick," a 52-foot whale sculpture made of industrial felt by artist Tristin Lowe. Installation took five days and a team of five people.

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
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
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. Charles W. Coker, Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. F. Reed Dulany III
Lindsay and Brent Harlander
Mr. and Mrs. Patrick J. Haynes III
Kelley and Josh Keller
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
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Savannah, GA 31412
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