Unconventional Materials: Part 21 – Rachel Levin, Art Lecturer

Rachel Levin is a popular art lecturer who often lectures at the Bernard Betel Centre for our weekly Tuesday Lifelong Learning Lectures. In her series of ‘Unconventional Materials’ she introduces artists from all over the world using unconventional materials to create their art.

Unconventional Materials: Magnificent Chandeliers made of Bicycle Chains

What happens to old bike’s parts once they reach the end of their usable life? What happens to old bicycle chains that were just replaced and there was no need for them anymore?  In most cases, they probably end up in a landfill. Sometimes, those parts end up being recycled. Occasionally, some artists find an even better use for these old parts. Those are the artists described in this new series.

Carolina Fontoura Alzaga

Carolina Fontoura Alzaga, or Caro for short, is a Mexican-Brazilian artist. She is an emerging multidisciplinary artist who operates under the name Caro and is recognized internationally. She is the owner of Facaro Art Studio, based in South Los Angeles, California, where she produces her artwork.

Nisha Magazine – Israel, March 2011

Caro made the first bike chain lighting sculpture in 2007 for her BFA (Bachler of Fine Arts) thesis exhibit in Denver, CO., for which she won ‘best in show.’ In 2008, she went on to participate in a Mexico City group show. Her work received great praise on TV, radio, magazines and blogs. Once images of the “Connect” series of chandeliers hit the internet, it took on a life of its own and for the next three years, she had a steady flow of press coverage that brought her many clients.

Warme – Swiss Magazine December 2012
American Craft Magazine – March 28, 2023

The “Connect” series has been featured in papers and magazines including the L.A. Times, American Craft magazine, Architectural Digest, the New York Times, and other international home decoration magazines.

In the “Connect” series, Caro uses bike parts to create luxurious, cascading traditional chandeliers. Caro’s works stem from her interest in exploring the original function of materials after they become trash, then she transforms them into something new and beautiful altogether.

The “Connect” series chandeliers draws its inspiration from classical crystal chandeliers. Caro moved to LA in 2011, thanks to an invitation to have a workspace at the Croft House warehouse in LA. In 2012, Etsy featured her work in their handmade portraits series which, due to their reach in the year that followed, she had the same amount of press that she had in the previous three. From 2010 to 2014, her business doubled every year until the demand outgrew her capacity to keep up with a seven-month waiting list.

Caro is unique in her craft. She is the original creator and inventor of the bike chain chandelier. It has taken her 10 years to perfect the forms and fabrication process, placing the ultimate importance on the craft, aesthetics, and safety of her chandeliers.

Sadly, Caro has a Chinese competitor that is creating exact replicas of her work while using new bike chain and charging half price, which goes against everything Caro’s work stands for. Her clients understand the value of her work’s originality and support her independent artistry.

Caro and her assistant

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