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“Tell me a story.”

February 3, 2014

The darkest days are over, and many of us look toward Spring, and so it is about this time every year that we fan the flames of seasonal desire by announcing the library’s annual challenge art show theme:

“Tell me a story.”

There are rules—let’s call them constraints of form—for visual artists, poets, and writers. We are specifically not seeking collaboration this year. It’s more like “call and response.” The call comes from a story (if you’re a visual artist) or a visual piece (if you’re a poet or writer). And you respond.

Here are the instructions from our challenge show curators, Sally Mather and Barbara Ford:

“Visual artists: select a written or oral story to base your piece on. It can be a story from your own life; a made up story; a story from Aesop, Mother Goose, Grimm’s, the Bible, Greek mythology, folktales from other cultures and eras; a news story; a movie, novel, something you heard on NPR or Oprah; ad infinitum.

“One important feature of your piece is that you are to use no words, either in the piece itself or in the title, to indicate or announce what story you are telling. /Tell us a story in imagery alone/. Let the viewers use their imaginations when looking at your artwork.

“Poets and writers: select a visual piece, whether a painting, drawing, illustration, photograph, billboard, sculpture, memory, hallucination, daydream, postcard, ad infinitum. Create a story based on your selection, written in prose or as a poem.

“Your written piece will be a story, not simply a description of the visual image you have chosen. Do not include the title of the visual piece, or otherwise disclose its identity. /Paint us a story in words alone./ Let the readers create their own visual experience of what you’ve written.”

Thus, the source of inspiration remains a secret to the audience … that is, until Art Walk, at which time we will reveal the stories and images that inspired the work.

And thus, submissions will include identification of the inspiring story or image, and this information will be kept under lock and key until the Time of the Great Revealing.

If the past is any predictor, the submitted work will stand on its own as art, but we think much of the audience will be curious to know the sources.

We can’t help but wonder, “Were did that come from?” There is an acceptance of the fact that everything comes from something before it. Nothing arises without a cause.

We can spin a story from the most meager information, providing all the necessary assumptions to get to whatever end intrigues us. We can also tell a story with great precision and care, so that the narrative—however it is communicated—is rich, wise, insightful, and true.

Must one read the Bible to be saved? Or course not. Must one read to understand the Second Law of Thermodynamics? It can boggle the mind to go down the path of epistemology, to wonder how we know what we know, but narrative plays a big role in it.

Narrative is not limited to the printed word, or even to language. Religious stories filled canvases for centuries. Scientific insights pop off the page from a well-formed graph.

This is just to get you going. Look for more detailed information soon at the library or its website. The challenge show hangs from early May through Art Walk in June. You have three months to get your story straight.


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