• Leonard Pryor (American, 1924-2015), Paper Boy, 1949, oil on canvas, 42 x 29½ inches

    Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri,
    Gift of Renée Pryor Newton and Craig Pryor in loving memory of their parents Leonard and Maxine Pryor, 2022.1.1.
    © Renee Pryor Newton and Craig Pryor. Photo: E. G. Schempf, 2022.

    Leonard Pryor (American, 1924-2015), Paper Boy, 1949, oil on canvas, 42 x 29½ inches

    Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri,
    Gift of Renée Pryor Newton and Craig Pryor in loving memory of their parents Leonard and Maxine Pryor, 2022.1.1.
    © Renee Pryor Newton and Craig Pryor. Photo: E. G. Schempf, 2022.

Third Person: Storytelling as Cultural Construction

Friday, November 11, 2022 to Sunday, February 12, 2023
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

The art of storytelling has been passed down for centuries through oral tradition, music, literature, theater, cinema, and visual art. A good storyteller can illuminate, warn, impart moral lessons, and raise questions about the nature of life. Third Person: Storytelling as Cultural Construction evaluates how narrative art—a form of storytelling by which an artist communicates historic or fictionalized accounts—can impact our collective consciousness through vivid imagination or a restaging of events.

In his 1936 essay “The Storyteller,” philosopher Walter Benjamin suggested that our society is struggling to pass along the art of storytelling or to tell meaningful stories due to the explosion of information and modern mass media. While “The Storyteller” is a contentious essay, particularly because of its critique of forms such as the novel and film, Benjamin’s analysis of information overload continues to prove timely in the age of internet and social media. This exhibition highlights visual artists whose use of narrative tactics slows us down, focuses our attention, and allows us to construct cultural meaning through strategies of illustration, imagination, and dramaturgy. 

Third Person: Storytelling as Cultural Construction is organized by Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and curated by Krista Alba, Kemper Museum assistant curator.