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Mythopoeia 

 

A Two-Person Exhibition: 

Ricca Okano 

Chelsey Pettyjohn 

 

April 20 - May 10, 2024

1545 W Sunset, Los Angeles

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all the lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” 

-J.R.R. Tolkien 

Traversing across layers of poetic mythology and its many connections to nature, Okano and Pettyjohn’s expressive worlds encapsulate the ethos of Mythopoeia, a concept famously adopted by the poet and writer J.R.R. Tolkien in the 1930’s. Reintroduced as a poem, Tolkien defends myth-making as a creative art about “fundamental things” and presents a unique space ripe with playful metaphors. 

 

Fusing painting and sculpture, Okano and Pettyjohn engage ceramics as a complex tool for mark making and as a canvas for dense layers of luminescent glazes. Guided by the mountainous and wooded surroundings of Karuizawa, Japan, in Okano’s own words, she is struck by the moment when “snow evaporates and turns into water”, an allegorical state between life, death, and the beginning of a rebirth. For Pettyjohn, imagery is mined from a personal history where self-made archetypes reveal a reservoir of fantasy and divination. Glass scavenged from the ocean, once whole, is melted across the surfaces of Pettyjohn’s painted slabs, simultaneously highlighting, and obscuring the illustrated figures that dance atop these ceramic canvases. 

 

As Mythopoeia takes the form of suspended vessels adorned with soldered copper rings, cascading ceramic wall-works, intimate sculptures and ceramic paintings, Okano and Pettyjohn invite us to ruminate on the verdant impact of our collective memories and the ethereal perceptiveness of nature’s shifting tides. 

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