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Circle of Truth

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-    A Visual Game of  "Telephone"   -
Ed Ruscha, Shane Guffogg, Billy Al Bengston, Lita Albuquerque, Jim Morphesis, Charles Arnoldi, Robert Williams, Ruth Weisberg and 41 other artists created works especially for the Circle of Truth project, in secret over a period of nine years.

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The Circle of Truth is a wholly unique “collaboration” of 49 contemporary artists, each sequestered and unknown to one another, working in absolute secrecy. Taking a full nine years from launch to fruition, The Circle of Truth is a modern, visual take on a common childhood classroom exercise, wherein a secret message was whispered from student to student. Often referred to as the Rumor Circle, or the Telephone Game.

In the case of the Circle of Truth, the first painting, created by co-curator, Shane Guffogg, was delivered, along with a blank canvas, to the second artist in the Circle , the second artist was not given the identity of the first artist. Her only instructions were to find "Truth" in the first painting and then use the blank canvas to create a work of art in response.  When she was finished, her painting and a new blank canvas went on to the third artist, and the first painting went into storage.  A simple procedure that was repeated 49 times over a period of nine years.

Participants were asked to keep the secret until the project was complete. They did not sign their paintings or talk about the project to anyone instead each was asked to write an essay about their experience which can be found in the exhibition catalog. Excerpts of the essays will be available for visitors to view during the exhibition. What transpired over the course of the project – what Truths were explored and discovered, how the artists were affected – broadened the scope of the Circle of Truth from an interesting exploration of sensitivity and creativity, into an unexpected examination of what Truth means sociologically and spiritually.



The Art

The 49 works of art were created specifically for the Circle of Truth by 49 different artists. Mostly oil paintings, all of the works measure 20 inches square by 2 inches deep, and will be wall hung in chronological order.

Addressing Contemporary Issues

The Circle of Truth project opens a dialog regarding the nature of what we consider Truth to be, and even whether we think it exists. Of course as intelligent beings we understand the potential of rumors and the inherent flaws of receiving and retransmitting information. But few give more than a shake of the head in response. The Circle of Truth allows the viewer to witness each and every change in the seed of Truth.

Which brings us back to the ultimate question, “What is Truth?” How do people in our society feel about their access to Truth? What is our responsibility to preserve Truth? Is Truth still important or even relevant? How does the subtle erosion of our confidence in Truth affect our sense of wellbeing? The exhibition touches on a need that resinates deeply in the human psyche – access to meaningful, truthful contact with others. This truthful contact is the secret ingredient in the Circle of Truth project. Using paint and words the artists speak to the viewers candidly, providing a rare perspective into their experience and thought processes. The accompanying book, with it’s sequential layout and essays by the artists, will provide a lasting record that visitors can take home. 


Accessible to All

Viewers of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and levels of education will be able to quickly understand and appreciate the meaning of the Circle of Truth. There are no prerequisites or any fundamental knowledge needed to appreciate and recognize Truth. The Circle relies simply on the viewers’ inherent human nature. The project provides many levels of interest, from superficial amusement, to existential explorations.

The Scholarship of Contemporary Art and Art History

The Circle of Truth project is a microcosm of contemporary art, encompassing many artistic styles. It pushes beyond the post-modernist era, where all styles are relevant – from hyper-realism, to pop, to pure abstraction with the myriad overlapping styles which reside between.

The Circle of Truth project is a nostalgic nod to the Exquisite Corpse game of the surrealists of the early 20th Century, where artists came together to collaborate on an unknown and unpredictable outcome. The Circle of Truth will be remembered as a moment when generosity, goodwill and courage came together to make something bigger than the individual, while inviting the viewer to be an integral part of the outcome. 

Facilitating Community Interaction and Collaboration Through Programming and Partnerships

The topic of Truth and its importance in the context of modern human experience is especially meaningful. The Rumor Game can be employed in a variety of creative ways to foster immersive and participatory experiences in the community, schools and via social media. Project sponsor, Enigma LA, is willing to develop and design printed materials to assist and encourage visitors to the Museum to play the Rumor Game in small groups. 


Each of the 49 artists and the curators have a wealth of experiences to share about their time with the Circle of Truth project. We feel these experiences would translate well into interesting speaking events with the curators and some of the artists. Audiences would be asked to play the Rumor Game at the beginning of speaking events.

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