“Broken Open” gallery highlights Chico artists


“They’re walking up on this protected boardwalk, but others are not too fortunate to have those types of protections,” said Crawford. Photo credit: Rayanne Painter

“Broken Open,” an art exhibition focusing on sound, words and objects, is open at 1078 Gallery on Park Ave. in Chico. Featuring Chico artists, the gallery collaborates between three different art forms.

Clay plates and oval dishes portraying colorful scenes, often of political discourse, hang on the walls of the gallery. Chico State art instructor Cameron Crawford created these meticulous pieces of clay painstakingly.

“They’re made out of terracotta clay and then they’re covered in a white slip,” Crawford said. “Then, I draw through the slip, almost like a scratchboard technique, and the drawing unfolds as I do it. I see something and think “that’s an interesting image, I might want to put that down,” and then once I have that character or scenery down, I respond to that.”

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Crawford explained that he often takes inspiration from other art that he comes across. This is the case for many of his pieces displayed in the gallery.

“There was a picture of some guys I saw walking quickly through the halls of power, so I put them into a situation where you see them as walking through a flood,” Crawford said. “They’re walking up on this protected boardwalk, but others are not too fortunate to have those types of protections.”

While he is influenced by other artists, social issues are also a large theme within his work.

“The current political climate is constantly giving me new inspiration,” he said. “Probably more environmental issues than anything, and then also the current political climate. Almost every day there seems to be a new environmental policy being rolled back. What you may see in some of my images are little kids peeking in from the outside, wondering what’s happening to their futures.”

Evelyn Ficarra, a composer and sound artist, was also featured within the gallery. Her pieces seemed to be mere sculptures, objects or a collaboration of visuals and solids but they make noise and sound in unexpected ways. These sounds correlate to the visual pieces but imply that they may be breaking or already broken.

The final installation of the exhibition involved words or, for Elise Ficarra, poetry. Ficarra writes in response to visual arts and, within this gallery, her work is hung up for all to see.

Her poem “Vessel” appears to be her main work of the collaboration.

“(The piece) offers images of the essential wholeness, which survives and surpasses the attempts to break and crack both vessels and the women who carry them,” 1078 Gallery’s press release said. The poem also touches on the Earth breaking open in humans’ attempts to extract fossil fuels and trees.

The art will remain up until Feb. 10. Select pieces of Crawford’s ceramic art will be transferred to display cases on the outside of the Arts and Humanities building at Chico State for the public to view.

Rayanne Painter can be reached at [email protected] or @rayphenomenon on Twitter.