Mystery in Sculpture

Roters follows her inspirations


Sculptor Carlene Roters waits for the wood to speak to her as she works.

“It tells me what I should do with it and my work evolves,” she said. “I don’t have a plan. I work with it – I don’t just impose myself on it. It comes from a feeling or something I think. If I’m painting, I’m just sitting in front of the painting and waiting for it to talk to me.

“I like the fact that I am in essence collaborating with the material. That gives my carving a bit more mystery and forces me into new ways of thinking and seeing, which thrills me.”

Roters grew up in a family of artists. Her father created murals, at Jackson Lake lodge and other places. She went to art classes since she was 3.

When she grew up, she earned her B.F.A. at Syracuse University and her M.F.A. from Arizona State University. She joined Western New Mexico University’s Expressive Arts Department in Fall of 1999. Her artwork is exhibited both nationally and internationally, and her work has been on display at the Blue Dome Gallery since 2000.

Now a full show at the Blue Dome Gallery opens Oct. 8 with a reception from 4-7 p.m. and will provide a peek into Roters’ work for the last nine years. The show will be up until Dec. 7.

“The astonishing scale and number of sculptures will create a lasting impression for all who attend,” according to a release from the Blue Dome.

Roters has been working in wood for the past 18 years and started carving wood herself about nine years ago. She said she loves the work of the German expressionists who influence her work greatly.

“I’m really enjoying carving and painting too,” Roters said.

Taking various sculpture classes at WNMU for 23 years now, she said she still learns something new every time she goes to the diverse advanced sculpture class. For example, just recently she learned about special long nails that can hold her sculptures tighter to the pieces she needs to attach.

“I just go in there and work with the kids,” she said. “It’s really nice to be working with younger people and older people. Kids gain from us; we gain from them too. They are full of life.”

Before carving her sculptures, Roters was working with assemblages.

Inspired by the late Rubin Gonzales, a renowned artist from Silver City, known for collecting parts from the disassembled mining town of Santa Rita and putting them together in assemblages, she was drawn to the area.

“I came here to investigate Silver City, looked in a window and saw his workshop and assemblages,” Roters said. “But he died, and I never got to meet him.”

Working in the art department at WNMU, she asked if she could put together a retrospective of Gonzales’ work at the University Art Museum was granted permission to do so. Pulling together the retrospective was an adventure, Roters visited numerous area families because the work was scattered and gifted throughout the community.

Asking WNMU sculptor Michael Metcalf if she could use some of the leftover parts from Santa Rita Gonzales had collected, she was able to create further assemblages incorporating those parts. Some of those will be on display at the Blue Dome exhibit.

Her inspiration for her carving adventure began years ago and was generated when she saw a collection of work by wood carver Russell Childers. Childers had been misdiagnosed as mentally handicapped and spent 39 years in an institution. It turned out he was hearing impaired and did not speak. Roters said Childers carved memories of when he was a young boy.

“I decided I would try carving like he did,” she said. “In one of the assemblages, I did a carved head – and that was kind of the start of wanting to start carving.”

The Blue Dome Gallery is at 307 N. Texas St., Silver City. Free and open to the public. For more information, call Bear Mountain Lodge 575-538-2538.