This year's group of Craft Alliance artists-in-residence — Bifei Cao, Laura Elizabeth Mullen, William Archer Rimel, Kelsey Viola Wiskirchen — exhibit elegant work that playfully upends the expectations of their medium, be it metal, fiber or clay. Cao creates intricate jewelry that blends Eastern and Western influences while suggesting forms of functionality, such as a ring that acts as a wax-seal imprint. Mullen casts small iron shapes such as bones or bowties, then strings them onto necklaces amid pearls, diamonds and semiprecious stones; her pieces are at once opulent and oddly forbidding. Rimel, who works in red clay, shapes tiny grotesque figures and faces, whose grimacing mouths reveal gold teeth and whose lumpen postures are crowned by, say, a spinning carnival top from which small airplanes twirl. Wiskirchen weaves diaphanous portraits out of thin white nets through which black string is interlaced. Drawing, with her thread, images of women reading, conversing or drinking tea, she imbues her work with an illusionistic graphic quality that defies the painstaking needlework that brings it into being. Through July 28 at Craft Alliance (Grand Center), 501 North Grand Boulevard; 314-534-7528 or www.craftalliance.org. Hours: noon-6 p.m. Wed.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun.
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