San Francisco, California, USA: Art Jewelry Forum (AJF) is pleased to announce Bifei Cao the winner of the 2018 Art Jewelry Forum Artist Award.

Bifei Cao, Two Mouths
, 2017

Cao was chosen as this year’s Artist Award recipient from more than 100 international applicants. He will receive a cash award of US$7,500 and have his work exhibited alongside the four finalists at Platina gallery in the Frame area surrounding the annual exhibition, Schmuck, held in the International Trade Fair Hall in Munich, Germany.

AJF’s Artist Award acknowledges promise, innovation, and individuality, advancing the careers of rising artists. The competition was open to makers of wearable art age 35 and under and not currently enrolled in a professional training program. Judging was based on originality, depth of concept, and quality of craftsmanship. This year's jurors were Swedish collector Inger Wästberg, Australian curator Su san Cohn, and American artist Lynn Batchelder, the winner of the 2016 Artist Award.

Bifei Cao, Melting Together, 2017Bifei Cao, Melting Together, 2017            

Cao describes his work, the Vase Series, as a continual investigation he completed after earning his PhD in Australia. Referenced from traditional objects that are used daily in China, such as a jar and vase in classic Chinese pottery, each work deploys a dissolving and reshaping position to reflect on the temporality of our cultural situation.

In these works, he intended to reinterpret a historic joining method used for a jade burial suit made during the Han Dynasty in China. Through linking and twisting thin metal wires, all of the small jade parts were united to function as body protection and were a symbolic host for the spirit. Introducing this ancient but innovative method of connection to his work is consistent with his approach of bringing traditional techniques into contemporary life.

Bifei Cao, A Jar?
, 2017

Bifei Cao, Two Mouths
, 2017

Comments from the jurors:

The fabrication of the work is highly detailed, with moments of both exacting precision and unexpected collapse. Cut apart or cobbled together, the seeming fragility of these objects brings to mind a sense of having been mended. Familiar yet strange, these hybrid forms present many curiosities and questions, repeatedly asking me to look again, and creating the desire to interact and investigate further.

--Lynn Batchelder

The objects associate to a multicultural background. Connecting different cultural influences as well as different materials give the pieces an originality and a very special feeling.

--Inger Wästberg

Cao playfully experiments with cross-cultural identity. His intricate constructions cleverly integrate quirky bottle-like vessels into jewelry, showing both great skill and originality.

--Su san Cohn

Befei Cao, 2017


Find out more about Bifei Cao by reading his interview on AJF, in both English and Chinese.


Bifei Cao, In Process
, 2017Bifei Cao, In Process
, 2017



Art Jewelry Forum (AJF) is a nonprofit organization spreading awareness and increasing appreciation of art jewelry worldwide since 1997. Its diverse community of artists, collectors, critics, educators, galleries, historians, makers, and writers is united by a passion for art jewelry. AJF advocates for art jewelry through an ambitious agenda of education, conversation, and financial support. It commissions critical writing that sets the standard for excellence in the field, and publishes, an Internet resource for original content on art jewelry.

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