Ohio Arts Council Riffe Gallery hosts work of Ohio Art League artists.

Ohio Arts Council Riffe Gallery hosts work of Ohio Art League artists.

Art tells stories, distills history, reflects experience. The making of art can often tell the viewer as much about the artist as it does about the story/history that inspired the making. At that point, the artist, intentionally or otherwise, becomes, for the viewer, part of the story/history, both character and teacher.

This dynamic is central to “Come Along With Me,” the juried exhibition of work by members of the Ohio Art League that opens this weekend at the Ohio Arts Council's Riffe Gallery. Curator Richard Fletcher, associate professor in the Department of Classics at Ohio State University, was interested in updating the notion of ancient literature, philosophy and mythology via the application of contemporary art practice.

“I wanted to see how artists' experiences became ground for their work in ways that could also inspire other people,” Fletcher said.

In the case of Columbus artist Mary Jo Bole, the history that inspires her art is personal and present, an attempt to remember and understand her family tree via stories and archived images of two branches: one industrial magnates and the other immigrant day laborers, all from Cleveland.

“My work for the past 40 years has in some way been a reflection of my history with this lineage of women, weirdly coupled with punk-rock culture and the decaying of the city of Cleveland,” Bole said in a phone interview.

Fletcher said the exhibition's ratio of female to male artists (14:4) is not by accident, either. He said he was dually influenced by his own extensive experience in the classics, in which male voices are dominant if not exclusive, as well as the connection between artist Eva Hesse and writer Shirley Jackson. Hesse abandoned art, frustrated by societal constraints on women, and was inspired to revisit it by Jackson's novel “Come Along With Me,” about a woman who, when her husband dies, proceeds to pack up her house, change her name and catch the first train out of town.

“I thought it was time to find out more about ‘womansplaining,'” Fletcher said.

“Come Along With Me” will remain on view through April 15.