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Halloween Art and Travel

Jul 17, 2019

Listen to this episode to peek behind the vines of gourd life with award-winning gourd artist, Cara Bevan.

I saw Cara’s work for the first time at the 2018 North Carolina Gourd Society Arts and Crafts Festival. I was floored to find such a passionate group of gourd enthusiasts. I knew people made crafts out of gourds – but I didn’t know the extent of it…the creativity includes everything from kids crafts to fine art. Cara brought several amazing Halloween-type pieces of work to the show, including a skeleton that won First Place in the Halloween category.

Cara grew up on an animal rescue farm which sparked her love of nature and animals, the subject of her work. All the animals she creates come across as beautiful and admired, even those traditionally thought of as creepy.

Cara started her career doing acrylic paintings of animals and fantasy creatures. Cara’s grandmother is a gourd lover, having over 3 decades of art and growing experience. In 2007, she gave a Cara a gourd that she couldn’t decide what it should be worked into. Cara took one look at it and saw a turtle, the first step in her gourd artist path.

Her biggest challenge in creating art out of gourds is finding the right shapes for the sculpture. She said they are like working with wood. Some gourd artists are purists and like to leave the natural brown color and not add any other objects to the gourd. Cara loves to add clay, wire, and paint, and combine gourds together.  The biggest gourd sculpture Cara ever made was a 5’5” tall baby giraffe, composed of 11 gourds.

Cara’s “gourd hoard” contains over a thousand gourds, ranging from 3” tiny ones, to one the size of a table. Cara grows her own gourds and purchases at shows. Gourd vines can reach 40’ to 50’ long and will climb on anything. Serious gourd growers attend to their gardens daily.

There are 3 types of gourds. The decorative colored ones popular in Halloween decorations will rot like pumpkins. Another type is the loofah, which are grown for use as sponges. The last kind is the hard-shell type, which are dried out and used for art.

Gourd conferences provide a place for gourd lovers to come together and make art. Cara teaches technique classes at these conferences.  Gourd people are all “crazy art people” who love to share ideas.

Halloween is Cara’s favorite holiday. She has plenty of macabre monster ideas waiting in her sketch book.  She collects skulls, skeletons, skull art, and creepy things. She will be doing more anatomical work in the future.

Cara has a passion for storytelling and illustration. She recently did the artwork for “Born to Soar” a book about a vulture raised by turkeys (by Bill Barnes). Cara recently completed a commissioned vulture sculpture named Infinity made of 7 gourds, the largest bird she’s made so far. She loves tedious details so carving each individual feather was relaxing.

You can find Cara on Facebook, Instagram, and her web site. If you are in Winston-Salem, NC, look for her cosmic turtle scaled to 44 feet on a billboard on Highway 52 until July 2020.

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