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Sculptor’s bronze animals draw attention in art world

SANTA FE, N.M. — As a child, Robert Carr used his artistic drive to create.

From helping his grandmother make dollhouses to designing puppets for his short films, the artist’s creativity was always there.

Robert Carr holds a rattlesnake he is sculpting titled "Abo. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

Robert Carr holds a rattlesnake he is sculpting titled “Abo. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

Carr eventually worked his way up to making mini-Zozobras.

“I would set them on fire,” he says with a laugh. “That was the beginning to it all.”

Flash forward, and Carr is making a name for himself in the art world with his bronze sculptures.

Not bad for the fourth-generation Santa Fean.

"Dave" is a jackalope bronze statue by Robert Carr.

“Dave” is a jackalope bronze statue by Robert Carr.

His parents and, of course, his grandmother, encouraged him to develop the artistic abilities that appeared when he was a child.

Carr studied art at the The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Kansas City Art Institute and the College of Santa Fe.

He holds a master’s degree in art education from the University of New Mexico and has experience with a wide range of mediums and processes.

It’s the bronze animals that help drive his passion.

"Teagan" by Robert Carr.

“Teagan” by Robert Carr.

“I love animals and the spiritual relationships that humans and animals have,” he says. “People are drawn to animals, and it’s a beautiful relationship that builds.”

Carr’s work can be seen at Nedra Matteucci Galleries, where it is displayed alongside works from Michael Naranjo, Felipe Castañeda and Glenna Goodacre.

“Robert has a very unique personality which comes through in his sculptures,” Nedra Matteucci says. “He has a way of finding the unusual in the common and that drew us, as well as collectors to his work.”

Building a bond

From his burro carrying wood, “Jesusita,” to the owl, “Teagan,” who is perched on top of a half-cylinder, he celebrates the richness of the human-animal relationship and the distinct, mysterious nature of every creature.

Carr often looks to pictures for inspiration.

"Jesusita" by Robert Carr.

“Jesusita” by Robert Carr.

In fact, he recently visited the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument near Mountainair, where he saw a rattlesnake.

“Now I’m making this sculpture about the power of a rattlesnake,” he says. “It’s such a powerful reptile.”

In the design of “Abo,” Carr will leave room to fill the sculpture with BBs, so it will rattle.

“These are some of the surprises that make a piece better,” he says.

Carr works out of his home studio in Santa Fe.

He often works alone and says that doing so is a personal experience. He’s learned a lot about himself through making art and shares ideas with other creative people to grow.

“I would say my overall frame of mind while making art is that of curiosity,” he says. “I am curious to see how my ideas will translate through my hands into a physical form. My frame of mind changes from piece to piece. Some projects come together with great ease. Others are more difficult and the work can sometimes feel like more of a struggle. Each sculpture or drawing presents it’s own unique problem to solve – and, finding the solution is a very fun part to the creative process. Making art engages my mind in different ways.”

Taking many steps

Carr is drawn to bronze because of its permanence and says the medium allows him to “preserve my creations and share them with more people.”

He works mostly with Super Sculpey (a polymer clay) and Krazy Glue over aluminum armatures.

“It is fairly forgiving but very brittle. What I enjoy about Sculpey is that it enables me to sculpt my projects in sections and it holds a solid form,” he says. ” ‘Abo’ the rattlesnake is a good example of this. I made this snake in sections, and the snake fits together like a puzzle. I’ll sculpt the snake’s skin using latex, which should give it a beautiful and very detailed texture. The ink I draw with is not forgiving at all. A line of ink on paper is permanent. There is no way to remove it. If a poor stroke is made, I’ll either need to find a way to work that stroke into the composition or abandon the project.”

It has taken Carr a few years to gain some traction in the Santa Fe art scene, though he’s getting more eyes on his work.

“I want my artwork to bring joy into life, to put a smile on your face,” he says. “It’s about feeling good and laughing. Like most people, I love animals and relate to all sorts of animals in different ways. Animals are curious, pretty, graceful, mysterious and powerful. They are our friends, and they bring me joy.”

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