Pictures at Play: Metafiction in Art

May 4 - November 3, 2024
Central Gallery

The art in this exhibition contains an extraordinary sense of playfulness and surprise. It comes from metafictive books: those that tell stories about stories and about the art of storytelling itself. Artists experiment with styles, typography, and page design to delightfully disrupt the rules of how books usually work. 
Travel through stories that break the fourth wall, where narrators and characters directly address the reader. Witness familiar characters acting out of character or find stories that contain other stories in them. In blurring the lines between author, narrator, and reader, these books subvert our expectations about the real world and the world of fiction. 

Curated by Cathryn M. Mercier, PhD

What to Expect

Guests can enjoy work by 29 artists in a variety of media. They can read books and “remix” story titles on a magnetic bookshelf. Gallery graphics add a sense of surrealism.  

Illustration of child looking at book with same image inside.

Barbara Lehman, Artwork for Red Again. Collection of Barbara Lehman. © 2017 Barbara Lehman. 

Digital Technology & Art

In the exhibition Pictures at Play: Metafiction in Art, artists employ all kinds of media

The medium is the material artists use to create their art such as ink, watercolor, pastel, or graphite. They apply the medium to a support, or surface, like paper or canvas. In our labels, we might describe an artwork as “watercolor on paper” or “oil on board.” 

Many contemporary artists take advantage of today’s technologies to create their illustrations on the computer. We call this “born-digital artwork.” Artists may also draw or paint elements with traditional media, and then scan and assemble them using graphics software. When this is the case, our labels describe the artwork as a “digital collage.” We make high-resolution prints of digital works for display in our exhibitions.  

Flip through the slideshow below to look at some of the digital artworks featured in Pictures at Play. The caption for each includes more detail on the exact processes and programs the artists employed.  

Illustration of person drawing character on page.

Dan Santat, Artwork for Drawn Together by Minh Lê by Minh Lê. Collection of the artist. © 2018 Dan Santat. 

Explore Further
Story Board

Seeing is believing. 


Private Member preview of new exhibition!


Exploring the present moment through stories!


Artists will discuss their work on view in the special exhibition Pictures at Play: Metafiction in Art


Partly cloudy with a chance of imagination!


May 22 - June 23

Create a tunnel book to explore the space between the pages of your own unique story!

News & Press

Metafiction is fiction about fiction