Melissa Chernowetz

Studio Building
Studio Interior
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Studio Location
See video
Trailer for the shadow puppetry show, "The Legend of the Jersey Devil" by Melissa Chernowetz
See video
Trailer for the shadow puppetry show, "The Three Billy Goats Great" by Melissa Chernowetz
Artist's Statement

As a multidisciplinary artist who has been fascinated by shadow and light as well as the performing arts of music and storytelling, I embarked on a journey of shadow puppetry because it encompasses everything that I love. The contrast between a dark figure in the foreground and a background awash with bright, dramatic tones is very moving to me. The focus of my subject matter is endeavoring to uncover universal truths within my storytelling; symbology that rests in the subconscious mind of every human being regardless of country and culture. My work aims to conjure images that suddenly loom out of the darkness in a burst of light and color. My drive pushes me to begin working on a larger scale and to create puppets that have never been seen before. Creating magical experiences for children of all ages is very dear to my heart.


I first saw Lotte Reiniger’s silhouette film "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" seven years ago. I was very moved and watched the film several times, hoping to absorb its beauty by osmosis. Inspired by the simplicity and frugality of paper puppets and a light bulb, I realized that shadow puppetry was the perfect medium for a multidisciplinary artist such as myself. I wrote scripts, composed music, and built puppets, improving my craft with every build. I formed my own puppet company and have been performing for schools, libraries and cultural centers. Out of a desire to capture a moment of shadow puppetry and freeze it, I began to create papercuts which are illuminated by homemade LED circuits. Learning to make LED circuits has informed my shadow puppetry and I have begun to build lights into the puppets.