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Summon the Sea! Contemporary Artists and Moby Dick Highlights Six Artists and Their Take on the Literary Classic


SAVANNAH, GA. (Sept. 2019) A 52-foot-long felt whale by artist Tristin Lowe will make 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 through January 26, 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, and 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.”

About the Artists:

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 addition 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.

Investment is provided by the City of Savannah. Additional support is provided by SunTrust, Georgia Council for the Arts, and Paris Market.

Images can be accessed via the following Dropbox folder link:

Image Credit:

Tristin Lowe (American, b. 1966)
Mocha Dick, 2009
Wool felt, vinyl coated fabric, and internal fan
In collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, PA The West Collection, Philadelphia, PA
© Tristin Lowe

Related Programming:

A Whale of a Party

Friday, November 1, 6pm
Jepson Center
General Admission $75 | Patron Tickets $125

To celebrate Summon the Sea!, the Telfair Academy Guild will present “A Whale of a Party.” Plans include musical entertainment, culinary fare, and an exclusive opportunity for a viewing of the exhibition, including artist Tristin Lowe’s 52-foot fabric whale Mocha Dick. Patron tickets are $125 and include unlimited drinks, access to VIP lounge, and a special curator’s tour of the exhibition at 5:30pm. General admission is $75 and includes two drink tickets. Contact Lauren Grant at or 912.790.8866 to reserve your spot.

Sponsored by First Chatham Bank.

Members-Only Opening Lecture and Reception

Thursday, November 7, 6pm
Jepson Center
Free Admission (Museum Members Only)

In partnership with the Telfair Academy Guild, Telfair presents a lecture by Dr. Robert K. Wallace, who will discuss connections between the novel Moby-Dick and visual art with a concentration on the work of popular artist Frank Stella. Wallace is Regents Professor of English at Northern Kentucky University, a noted scholar of Herman Melville and author of the book Frank Stella’s Moby-Dick: Words and Shapes. Wallace conducted extensive interviews with Stella, chronicling the artist’s 12-year project exploring Moby-Dick in a series of sculptures and relief paintings and prints, including works in the Summon the Sea! exhibition. Seating limited to 225.

Summon the Sea! Free Family Day

Saturday, November 9, 1–4pm
Jepson Center
Free to Chatham County residents.

Participants in this free event will explore ocean ecology and whale-themed crafts. Experience contemporary artists’ take on Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby-Dick. The museum will offer a fun-filled afternoon day of informal learning, music, activities, and presentations related to life under the sea.

About Telfair Museums:

Opened in 1886, Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South and features a world-class art collection in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District. The museum encompasses three sites: the Jepson Center for the Arts, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, and the Telfair Academy. 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of both the Telfair Academy and the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters. For more information, call 912-790-8800 or visit


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