Artist Carol Goebel Evokes the World of Plants

What Carol Goebel is trying to capture in her pastels and wood-fired ceramics is nothing short of the motion of life.

“It’s a moment in the growth of nature – a moment in time,” the Pratt-educated artist says. “It has to do with the light and the glazing on the ceramic, on the clay – what you would see in a flash if you were looking at a tree, for instance.”

Her elongated leaves reach skyward, twisting out of gnarled tree trunks. In one arrangement, she’s juxtaposed a large, wood-fired clay work called “Spreading Leaves” in the foreground with a lush green pastel work called “Blaze” in the background.

“It’s a king of conversation between different elements – one in two dimensions and one in three dimensions,” she says. “I’m trying to set up a dialog between two mediums and two ways of looking at nature.

She finds her inspiration in the northern Catskills where she has a home, a garden and time for hikes in the natural world. And she’s observant of what surrounds her there.

“We see it as static when we glance at it, when we come back even two hours later, it will be different,” she says. “The plant has changed and the light has changed too. It’s not so easy, as you can imagine.”

Most of her work in wood-fired clay is realistically plant-like, an effect achieved in the kiln where swaths of fire striate her tree trunks and leaves with brownish purples, greens and yellows. It’s a medium that she chooses for good reason.

“I’ve been working with similar ideas during my whole career, in pastels, welded steel, and bird forms,” she says. “Now I’m doing clay – I’m attracted to it because it’s from the earth, and very pliable when you’re working with it and very brittle when it’s complete.”

Then there are the pastels. “They have incredibly rich colors – even for me,” she says. “And there’s the luminosity of them all.”

On April 25, a new exhibition of her work will open at Ceres Gallery, 547 West 27th Street in Manhattan.

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