Asheville Art Talk: ‘An unlikely pairing’

STRIKING A BALANCE: Local jeweler Christie Calacay and woodworker Cris Bifaro join forces for an upcoming show at Charlton Bradsher Art + Design. Photo by Thomas Calder

Fire, earth, water, metal and wood comprise the five elements theory, a Chinese philosophy used to describe the interactions and relationships between all things. This same premise is the basis for Equilibrium, the first paired showing of works by local jeweler Christie Calaycay and local woodworker and painter Cris Bifaro. The two makers will debut their latest collections at Charlton Bradsher Art + Design.

All five of the philosophy’s components are featured in the show. Some are obvious, such as the actual metals and woods used. Others are unseen, but implied, such as the fire required to create many of Calaycay’s designs. Meanwhile, water and earth are conveyed through symbolic interpretation.

Equilibrium also seeks to honor the philosophy’s view of influence and change. “Obviously the theory is much bigger than the list of the five elements,” Calaycay says. Part of its larger framework, she notes, deals with the notion that each element influences the next, creating a unique interaction.

The transformations that occur as a result of these interactions are another aspect of the show. Calaycay’s fire drop earrings, for example, highlight the possibilities that arise when fire meets metal. “The [earrings’] rough texture is accentuated by a dark patina made from the heat of my torch,” she explains. The earrings’ feature, a golden citrine, is also symbolic of the flames.

“Nature can be interpreted in so many different ways,” Calaycay continues. “I think it’s interesting to see how everything is used.”

While both makers lean toward clean and minimal lines in their designs, Calaycay notes the obvious differences in the two collections are the size and scale of their individual works. The show, she says, “is an unlikely pairing — a woodworker and jeweler.”

For Bifaro, Equilibrium works because of this discrepancy. Like Calaycay, he sees the show as an opportunity for viewers to consider the unique range of interpretations nature offers. “Hopefully [visitors] can really get their hands on the work and see how it represents these [five] elements. … I think [Calaycay’s] work has gone to a place, and mine as well, that really does sort of work well together in its celebration of the same thing: this local landscape.”

WHAT: Equilibrium
WHERE: Charlton Bradsher Art + Design, 27-A Page Ave.
WHEN: Opening reception Friday, Oct. 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. Show runs through October, by appointment. Contact Charlton Bradsher at


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.