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Nathan Carter Doesn’t Forget To Play 9

Guest blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art offering lectures, tours, program planning and consultation.

Nasher Sculpture Center exhibiting artist Nathan Carter was recently a guest speaker at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts . He told the aspiring artists that “It is important as an artist to just make things all the time- doesn’t matter what it is”.

Following his own advice, Carter makes t-shirts, tote bags, sunglasses, collages, clothing  (“I was afraid to draw faces, hands and feet, but I liked drawing clothing”), paper dolls, purses, sculptures , music — and some mayhem. His Nasher installation, The DRAMASTICS: A Punk Rock Victory Twister in Texas,” is a 3-D imaginary world of colorful paper cut-outs  depicting  the world tour of a fictitious all-girl, punk-rock band. The frenetic exhibition surrounds visitors. It wraps the walls and covers the windows of the Corner Gallery with paper,  plastic, wire, string, cotton balls, glitter, feathers and found objects. Carter quips, “The corner gallery they give to delinquents.”

Some may say Carter is delinquent. Some may say devilish or daring. At 47, he is still the skate-boarding, bass-guitar-playing kid in a band from Boston, now Brooklyn, who idolized Motley Crue and Guns ‘N’ Roses. He loved maps, Godzilla, Richard Scarry books, de Kooning and Hunter Thompson. Mix that all together with an MFA from Yale, inspiration from subway riding, and you would not be surprised when you hear him, now a recognized artist with multiple solo museum exhibitions, tell the Booker T art students, “It’s OK to play.”


From ‘The DRAMASTICS’ installation. Photo: Nasher Sculpture Center.

Carter’s Nasher installation seems to be a dream fulfilled for the artist because he got to play. He cut out the 10″ 3-D  paper  figures for his dreamed-up girl band. He  invented the narrative and designed the dioramas depicting their travels. He made their  flashy costumes. He composed their music,-but best of all — perhaps the real reason for the project — Carter  got to play in a band again. He formed a band for the sound track to “The Dramastics are Loud,” the short film he made of the girls’ world tour, ending with a gig in Paris.

Carter is proving that art can be fun for the artist and for the viewer. He left the young artists at Booker T with this advice:

  • Don’t  go to half a party
  • Always draw
  • Hold tight
  • Ride a unicycle
  • Follow your obsessions
  • And — don’t forget to love.