Telephone Game, Chinese Whispers, Russian Scandal and Grapevine, each variations of a game played in childhood, speak to that elemental need to communicate, despite our instinctive knowledge that the message is subject to language, interpretation, and intent, all along the road to enlightenment or— truthiness. The search can be noble or naughty, but endlessly fascinating, and it's as old as a pack of dogs.

The Circle of Truth is an ambitious art collaboration among 49 contemporary artists, working separately, but sequentially, under the guidance of co-curators Laura Hipke and Shane Guffogg, who created the first painting and delivered it, along with a blank canvas and request to create a visual response to the next artist in the Circle.

Previous paintings in the series went into storage as the process continued with the 49 artists over a period of nine years. Although each piece is accompanied by an essay from the participant, the optic impact of 20 by 20 square paintings hung straight in chronological order presents a visual trifecta. An individual work, by Robert Williams or Ed Ruscha, for example, tells one story; pieces in proximity reflect one another; and the whole visual experience is a multi-image panorama unified by the age-old question, “Just what is the story?”

After a debut at the New Museum Los Gatos, Circle of Truth opens at the Lancaster Museum of Art on August 10 and then at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art on April 3rd, 2021.

Originally published in the Summer 2019 Issue of Juxtapoz Magazine.