BIG IDEA Project: The Unreliable Narrator (Sept. 1–Nov. 14, 2017)

The Sun Valley Center for the Arts is thrilled to announce its new BIG IDEA project, The Unreliable Narrator, opening Friday, Sept. 1, with a celebration at The Center’s museum in Ketchum. The event, which is free and open to the public and coincides with Gallery Walk, will begin at 5 p.m. Visitors are invited to enjoy a glass of wine while they view the exhibition.

This BIG IDEA project considers the power of the narrator—a storyteller who shapes our experience of a story by determining the pace at which it unfolds, the order in which we learn about events, what details we’re given and what gets omitted. Sometimes narrators aren’t completely reliable, and their accounts can’t be implicitly trusted. They may lie (either directly or by omission) or perhaps misunderstand and misrepresent the events that occur in a story. An unreliable narrator may ask readers (or listeners, or viewers) to fill in the blanks, to question and to construct their own narrative structure as they read a book, watch a play or film, or view a work of art.

The Center’s exhibition for The Unreliable Narrator features art that invites viewers to question the story they are being told: What parts of the storyline can we believe? What don’t we know? What information do we need to fill in? Each of the exhibition’s six featured artists encourages us to engage with their artwork to complete its story.

Participating Artists include:

  • Holly Andres, a Portland-based photographer known for her compelling narratives that unfold over a series of carefully constructed images, leaving room for viewers to complete the story using their own imaginations.
  • Mark Dion, an internationally known artist whose works across a variety of media—drawing, sculpture, photography and film—borrows the language and methods of science to probe the relationship between science and its claim to truth.
  • Simon Evans™, a creative collaboration between artists Simon Evans and Sarah Lannan, whose paper-based sculptural works combine text and images in creative, unexpected and often humorous ways.
  • Jenny Kendler, the current artist-in-residence for the Natural Resources Defense Council, who has developed an artistic practice that marries her focus on the challenges facing the natural environment with her love of literature.
  • Gina Phillips, a New Orleans multimedia artist who works with fabric, thread, ink and paint to create intricate installations that weave together narrative strands drawn from history, folklore and myth.
  • Deb Sokolow, a Chicago-based artist who combines drawing and text in elaborate narrative works that use real historical figures as the starting point for dark but hilarious stories.

“I think we’ve all had the experience of reading a novel or watching a film and realizing we can’t be sure of anything the narrator has told us. That same dynamic can occur with art,” observed Dr. Courtney Gilbert, Curator of Visual Arts at The Center. “And that experience is part of the fun—it gives us a chance to take an active role in deciphering the story and figuring out the relationship between the narrator, the storyline and the audience.” The Center is especially excited about the new work being presented as  part of The Unreliable Narrator project. “With generous support from Jennifer Wilson, The Center commissioned Holly Andres to create a body of still-life photographs at The Center, Hailey, the birthplace of Ezra Pound,” explained Gilbert. “The images Holly produced are incredibly evocative and invite all kinds of interpretations of the stories they might tell.”

A series of lectures, workshops, films, and a theatrical reading will complement The Unreliable Narrator visual arts exhibition and encourage community discussion on the topic.

Associated Events include:

  • Museum Exhibition 1–Nov. 14
  • FREE Exhibition Opening Celebration and Gallery Walk Friday, Sept. 1, 5–7 p.m.
  • FREE Evening Exhibition Tours Thursday, Sept. 28 & Oct. 19, 5:30 p.m.
  • Film: Under the Sun Thursday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m.
  • Lecture: James B. Stewart, Thursday, Oct. 19, 6:30 p.m. (DATE CHANGE: Please note this lecture date has changed from the originally published date of Oct 12)
  • Film: Nuts! Thursday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m.
  • Adult Class / Creative Jump-in: How to Tell a Great Story Thursday, Oct. 26, 5:30–8:30 p.m.
  • Theatre: Staged Reading of Pal / Conversation with Playwright Tasha Gordon-Solmon Friday, Oct. 27, 6:30 p.m.
  • Teen Workshop: From the Page to Stage Saturday & Sunday, Oct. 28 & 29, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
  • FREE Family Day Saturday, Nov. 4, 3–5 m.
  • Public Storytelling with The Center and The Humming Bull date and time TBA

The visual arts exhibition for The Unreliable Narrator will be on view through Nov. 14, 2017, at The Center in Ketchum. For more information, please visit or call 208.726.9491.