New Nave exhibit dresses nature in new threads

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

May 15, 2013 at 12:15 a.m.

Animals and nature are Carter Ernst's inspiration for her art work.

"Nature is my subject matter, but it's made with unnatural materials - that's the contrast," she said.

Ernst, 59, a sculptor based out of Houston, will take over the Nave Museum on Thursday with her exhibit "Fur Bitten" made up of not-so-natural pieces of artwork.

For about 20 years now, she's been using found materials from thrift and fabric stores in her art just as she used paint and brushes earlier on in her career. She has been known to use anything from colorful neckties to stretchy polyester blouses from the women's section.

"I stumbled on using fake or faux fur, and it started working really well," she said of her process. "It enables me to bring color and texture into the work in a way that I found pretty exciting."

Her sculptures range anywhere from a few inches to oversized pieces. It's fun to play with scale, she said.

But her favorite pieces are inspired by her dogs.

"I've done a lot of portraits of my dogs, which are not straightforward portraits," said Ernst. "You have to see them to understand. Those are the closest to my heart."

There will be plenty to see, she said of her exhibit at The Nave. Her show will be up until June 23.

"I love nature, but the world is changing so quickly, and we're losing a lot of it," she said of her work. "We have to adapt. ... The subject matter is natural, but the materials are manmade, so they come together to make a hybrid that I think is significant to our time."



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