Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Helios: A Q&A with Eve

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“Solar Wind” earrings copyright: Eve Alfille. Photo credit: Matt Arden.

What does the concept of “Helios” mean to you? 

This series, “Helios,” falls within my interest in and investigation of how we, as humans, have always responded to the world as we perceive it. So, more broadly, it belongs to the ‘passage of Time’, historical/prehistorical part of my work.

Just like my much earlier series “Les Animaliers” was not about animals per se, but about how we have interpreted them (an ‘animalier,’ in French, is a painter who specializes in animals as subjects), “Helios” attempts to view the Sun as ancient to modern people have seen it: a constant and inescapable presence, overwhelming at times –weak and endangered, perhaps, at others– and capable of multiple interpretations.

That those interpretations have almost always been very graphic testifies to our need for control and self identification: giving the Sun facial features is a very ancient, anthropocentric attempt at understanding it, and hopefully bringing its course under human control. Maybe if the sun is human-like, we can reason with it?

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“Sol At His Most Benevolent” pin/pendant: copyright Eve Alfille. Photo credit: Matt Arden.

What does “Helios” mean to history? To jewelry? 

Given how central the Sun, in its incredible power, is to human survival, I ponder how original sun cults eventually evolved into modern religions! Was it necessary to diminish the sun’s power by erecting defenses? Other, stronger gods to confront its influence?

Certainly Luna, the moon, is more often female, while Sol, the Sun, might more often have been seen as male- though not always.

Why? And why is the Sun’s face often bland? It is only occasionally that we encounter a favorable expression,  or even a particularly angry one.

…And why did humans resist putting the Sun at the apex of their gods, when in fact its influence determines whether they eat or not, survive another year or not? How come Jupiter, how come Baal, how come any other gods came to be seen as more powerful?

What can we expect to see stylistically in this series? Any stones or motifs of note?

How interesting that we are conflicted about the sun: it is the best of things, it is the worst of things. We tan, or we wield parasols. Primitive tribes wailed in anguish during solar eclipses: it was dying, maybe not to return! If we use HFC’s, skin cancer rises. But then it’s beach season again.

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“Carefree Days” necklace:  copyright Eve Alfille. Photo credit: Matt Arden.

So my suns will be both sunny and angry, they will be crowned in beauty with opals, and bare of ornament. They will be subdued, or blazing with diamonds, like the costume designed for Louis XIV, the Sun King. Red spinels, mandarin garnets, yellow sapphires.

 

But we too suffer when Helios, or Sol, removes itself. Its loss, or absence must, too, be celebrated, albeit in somber tones of black spinels, grey and mauve moonstones, and labradorites…

And there should also be peasant suns, enthroned over parched fields of jasper with plump golden rays enlivening sere landscapes, and uncertain suns, November suns, of pale citrine and quartz.

How does this series fit into your work as a whole? 

When we celebrated our 25th year at the gallery, a “Deja Vu” series replayed some favorite pieces in a new guise in honor of the occasion.  This time, as we prepare to honor our 30th year next year, I have taken a few other favorites –rings in this instance– and asked them to present homage to Helios as a special addition to the series. You will see a special version of the Acanthus ring, the Medieval ring, and a few others among the new Helios pieces.  It is my way of paying obeisance to earlier inspirations while forging ahead, as I hope to do for many years to come.

Did you ever encounter anything related to Helios during your time as an archaeologist? 

Heraldry…it is a medieval code of graphic design, and very precise. A heraldic sun’s straight rays always mean Light, but its oscillating rays have to mark Heat. Ancient Incas must have known this: their sun, who is a short-statured warrior, holds in his quiver both curved and straight rays.

Here too, is duality, which we must observe and portray. Heat and light: observe both in the political fray…perhaps more heat than light, alas.

 

To view Eve’s series, “Helios,” join us in celebration at the Eve J. Alfillé Gallery & Studio on November 19 from 1pm to 7pm. 

 

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