Inspired by her Filipino roots, Pensacola native Christie Calaycay set out to find a way to tie together a passion for jewelry making with an appreciation of her culture.
Her handcrafted jewelry collection “Disenyo,” the Filipino word for design, will be on display this Sunday at First City Art Center.
Calaycay, who is now based out of Asheville, N.C., said that she collaborated on the collection with her sister Cheryll Calaycay on marketing and product development. They both wanted to be a part of something that would honor their Filipino roots.
“I’ve always found the natural beauty of the Philippines and its exotic arts and traditions inspiring,” Calaycay said. “My sister and I wanted to craft a collection that honored our culturally-rich ancestral heritage.”
Calaycay said that she wanted to do something different from the typical retail art shows she had been doing.
“The more we delved into its historical nature, it became evident that there was so much inspiration to draw from, in terms of the old world craft and production,” she said.
Calaycay said that each piece of the collection will be showcased alongside cultural artifacts and images that inspired the design.
“This collection was born out of an appreciation for ‘old world’ artistry and traditions native to the Philippines and the country’s natural landscape,” she said. “There is such historical value behind practices like woodcarving and fabric production. We wanted to create a space where creativity, craftsmanship and culture meet.”
Calaycay’s work is inspired by nature, and she uses texture and mixed metals to craft each piece.
“The jewelry is meant to ground and connect the wearer to nature and the environment, one of the main goals of the collection,” she said.
Calaycay has been designing and making jewelry for over 15 years. She is formally trained in Cultural Anthropology.
“I took a few metalsmithing classes and workshops in college, and as soon as I learned how to use a torch and a saw, I was hooked,” she said. “It wasn’t until years after graduation, working as a folklorist and starting graduate schoo,l that I committed to an intensive apprenticeship with a master jeweler.”
While she was born in the U.S., both of Calaycay’s parents are from the Philippines.
“I grew up in a large Filipino community, so while my parents’ generation continued to assimilate to a new culture, we were lucky enough to be surrounded by others who practiced the same traditions, spoke Filipino and gathered frequently for meals and parties,” she said. “It was the best of both worlds.”
Each piece will be displayed next to the cultural artifact or photograph that inspired the design. A brief background on the item will be provided as well, which adds an interesting educational element to the show.
“I spent a few years working for the State of Louisiana documenting folk artists in the region and learned the value in apprenticeships, as well as being inspired by diversity and the richness it brings to life,” Calaycay said. “This experience taught me about the role that culture and tradition can play in passing down art forms.”
WHAT: Opening Reception and Exhibit of the Disenyo Collection by Christie Calaycay
WHEN: 3-7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 22
WHERE: First City Art Center, 1060 N. Guillemard St.