Box of Delights
Chelsey Pettyjohn & Rachel TonThat
A wolf lurks in the underbrush with near-silent footfalls. The witch waits in her lair, sharpening a knife. Silver-tongued monsters whisper enticements to travelers from beside waiting stewpots. For when knowledge runs dry, imagination fills the gaps, and it is only in the world of children’s stories that fear and violence can so quickly give way to mirth. This is a limitless place where death has no sway, and where reality is suspended long enough to believe that no matter what might happen, good will come to those who wait.
Box of Delights builds on the theme of children’s stories and references antique bestiaries and shadow play, using light to evoke classical methods of narrative by the fireside. The cut paper figures of this installation are dormant; waiting to be brought to life, to be given breath and movement, to be animated by imagination.
For their time at Chashama, Rachel TonThat and Chelsey Pettyjohn present a duology of installations that references the cosmology and magical realism of children’s books from the 1800s and early 1900s.
About the Artists
Rachel TonThat is a multidisciplinary artist and writer working with speculative narratives around themes of possible futures, memory, and space-time. Across the forms of installation, fiction, artist books, and virtual experiences, she creates parables for this and other realities. She currently lives between Zurich and Salem, MA.
Chelsey Pettyjohn is an artist working in paint, sculpture, and installation. Her work engages a specific collection of self-made archetypes and iconography. Themes reveal personal history: childhood fantasies, forbidden sexuality, the secrecy of inner worlds. Horses, clowns, witches, canids, drifters; the characters serve as recreations of early impressions, both real and imagined. Her work studies the juxtaposition of the delicate and grotesque – articulating the human experience in all its innocence and brutality. She currently lives and works in Red Hook, Brooklyn.