Chelsea Pegram

June 22- August 4, 2019

Citrus evokes a hominess to me, a California native, and happily is found aplenty in your backyard. It ties to… a kind of perversion of French Country Kitchen and the centrality of the female body to an imagined imagery of fertility, bounty, and construed naturalness as goodness, which all seemed rather convincing to a girl growing up in Laura Ashely sheets and dresses.


Chelsea Pegram uses sculpture, painting and drawing to create site-specific works that directly respond to and interact with the architecture of a space. Pegram’s new installations respond to the domestic design and structure of the Spanish-revival bungalow as well the geographic specificity of Home Alone’s location at the gateway to the San Fernando valley. Details of the installation also draw on the emotional and psychological energy of this specific home, which has been in my family for generations and holds many fond memories of my grandparents, now deceased.

Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) panels have been meticulously fashioned to replicate the curves, corners, and proportions of the “living room.” Intricately connected by a system of slots, holes, and dowels, each installation is a peculiar puzzle, and the use of industrial-domestic materials conjures the pre-assembly design model of IKEA just down the street. The semi-gloss paint refers to the existing treatment of molding and built-ins around the fireplace. Colored pencil playfully punctuates these surfaces, drawing attention to the decorative impulse of the shelving unit. Gouache stains seep into the tabletop, their juicy traces complimenting a mechanical yet free-form river of squiggles carved deeply into the surface with a router.

Woven string holds pieces together, functioning as both armature and ornamentation, and resembling the fringe of a shag rug, a makeshift loom gone awry, or the torn edges of a knitted shawl that once draped the densely upholstered couch, where I would sit and read with my grandmother after lunch. Cast pieces of grapefruit, some intact, some discarded in various stages of consumption, are displayed like remnants of an intimate activity across the surfaces. Thin green wire has been formed into vines of citrus leaves and delicately arranged among the pulp. Pegram’s installation offers so many little treasures to discover that the two house cats had to be exiled from the exhibition space for the duration of the show (they don’t mind).

Pegram’s installation plays with the idea of what we may expect to find inside a home, in what form, and where. The vintage patterned linoleum in the dining room is replicated on a “tabletop” with carefree brushwork and repetition of the routered curving lines, now forming elegantly awkward curly-cues. The “furnishings” and embellishments simultaneously fit perfectly and are at odds with the existing domestic interior, and it is this jumbling of designated, duplicated, and inventively fabricated structures and signs that is delightfully and subtlety mischievous.