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.
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. calaycaydesign.comcrisbifarowoodworks.com
WHEN: Opening reception Friday, Oct. 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. Show runs through October, by appointment. Contact Charlton Bradsher at cbartanddesign@gmail.com

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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