“To the best of my recollection” might sound like a phrase drawn from the Watergate Hearings or a television courtroom drama, but it also suggests the fallibility of memory. A new exhibition of drawings at the Hunterdon Art Museum explores how we retell stories, and how information is lost or distorted when we consider the people and places in our lives.
“To the Best of My Recollection” opens May 17 and runs until Sept, 6. A reception featuring gallery talks will be held Sunday, May 17 from 2 to 4 p.m. Refreshments will be served, and everyone is welcome.
The four artists whose works are featured in the show – Alex Gingrow, Carlos Rodriguez, Frank Magnotta and Michael Scoggins – approach the art of storytelling from fresh perspectives using text, art and sometimes both.
Exhibition curator, Noah Klersfeld, says the show serves as a jumping off point for the artists to express in numerous ways how objective truth may be unattainable or undesirable.
“Each of these artists is looking way back to their childhood or to yesterday through imagery or text and, in some way, is retracing something that has happened to them,” Klersfeld said. “How much history we recall is fact or fiction and what is the line between the two? What is fiction; what is nonfiction? And when you think of a story that you tell from your past is it entirely distorted by everything that’s happened since then or not.”
There is no common aesthetic in the show. The artists’ approach the central theme of memory from unique angles:
- Gingrow creates text-based paintings and drawings that, through turns witty, sardonic or poetic – examine the oddities and intricacies of the human condition.
- Magnotta creates detailed drawings strongly influenced by popular culture that are absurdist Americana-inspired images.
- Scoggins’s work has an obvious ring of familiarity: the blue lines and spiral-bound edges of a child’s notebook. The work is enlarged to give this familiar object an added sense of importance and to create a new perspective. The text and images on the paper deal with the influences of American culture and how it has shaped his life.
- Rodriguez is a New York-based artist who is known for his drawings, paintings and sculptures. He said he’s fascinated with abstract painting, architecture and the composition of things as a visual experience.
Klersfeld, whose video work was featured in a solo exhibition at the Museum last year, hopes viewers will think about narrative after viewing the show. “There are text and imagery and a placelessness that comes with this great history we have of storytelling and how those stories are told visually or otherwise,” Klersfeld said. “I think all the works are fun as there is a playful aspect to them, so I hope people have some combination of having a serious discussion about fact and fiction in storytelling, but in this playful manner that can be heavy and light simultaneously.”