‘Enchanted Seas,’ The Papier Mâché Art of Carol Willett

Filed under: Roanoke Island by roanokeisland on Thursday, March 6th, 2014

The “Gypsy Fish Wife,” “Musical Lute Fish,” “Jules the Giant Squid,”  “Carolina Card Shark” and a host of other fabulous creatures have taken up residence in the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island Nautilus Art Gallery through July 7, 2014.

Inspired by the ocean, literature and the lifelong interest in cross-cultural mythology, the art of Outer Banks artist Carol Willett is delighting guests with a romp through Enchanted Seas of visual puns and near-magical art. The 17 sea creatures are crafted from recycled materials, paint, glitter, seashells and love.

Surrounded by her creations on every wall of her home in Southern Shores, the artist is more multifaceted than her 17-sided house. After retiring from the U.S. Government, Willett began exploring her interest in cloth and papier mâché. She found sculpting in this medium is another way to do what she has always liked to do—uncover new possibilities and develop potential. An upstairs sunroom serves as a studio where her collection of beach finds and items normally bound for the recycling bin occupy a large closet and a mysterious antique Chinese medicine chest. Each piece of art is unique and requires 1 to 6 weeks to produce, depending on size and complexity.

Willett says, “The best years of my life have been spent by the sea . . . on travels around the world and now on Outer Banks. What the tides leave behind enchants me, and I regularly meld objects from the sea and shore into my creatures of imagination. This exhibit is a small sampling of the many mammals, myriad mythical creatures, perky personalities and sea life I’ve sculpted since moving to Southern Shores in 2010. My sculpture recycles newspaper, catalogs, cardboard, coat hangers, old bed sheets, plastic, glass and natural materials into new life forms. My creatures happily detour off the beaten path into the realm of imagination. I hope the creatures make viewers smile, if not laugh right out loud. Their mission, and mine, is to create joy in our world.”

Says exhibition curator Kitty Dough, “The Aquarium is delighted to host Carol’s creatures of Enchanted Seas where fish dream, Jazzy Jellies sport nautical bling and Social Morays take on a whole new meaning!”

Enchanted Seas: The Papier Mâché Art of Carol Willett is included with regular Aquarium admission until it swims away July 7, 2014.