Sculptures by talented artist and Arabian horse lover, Carol Fensholt Nierenberg, are instantly recognizable by their beauty, exquisite style, and dynamic poses. With her work featured in multiple international publications, used as awards at prestigious shows, and proudly displayed at premier Arabian horse venues worldwide, Carol is undoubtedly gifted. Her studio located in Carefree, Ariz., affectionately known as the Silver Box, nestles within her boutique Arabian breeding and show farm.
(Emma) Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
(Carol) At this point in my life, I am making up for years of lost time, in terms of horse ownership and my second career, sculpting.
My parents were not “horsey,” and could not afford horses in any case, so I was horse-deprived growing up. I did go to horse camp for a week every year from age 11 through 17 –– the high point of all my summers, for which I saved up by babysitting and doing household chores –– cleaning, laundry, ironing. I loved and drew horses from age two, and as a child was encouraged to become an artist. But I didn’t want to starve, so I became a journalist –– an editor, publisher and business magazine owner, which is a good way to starve now, but publishing was good to me for many years. Silver Box Studios and our Carefree ranch, Silver Box Southwest, are fairly new ventures for me and for my husband, Stu Nierenberg, formerly a non-riding New Yorker.
(Emma) Talk to us about your creative process.
(Carol) People often ask me to sketch what I have in mind for a sculpture, but for me this is impossible. It’s like asking a pregnant woman to draw a likeness of her future child and accurately predict its personality, talents and passions. As poet Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Your children are not your children. They come through you but not from you.” So it is with my sculptures.
Yes, I always start with an idea in mind –– a standing, rearing, or running horse, say –– and I bend the wires of the armature (the frame on which I build up the clay) to reflect that gesture. But the horse that takes shape always surprises me –– when I get to the point where my lump of clay’s personality and character start to emerge, I am meeting this nascent individual for the first time.
(Emma) What makes the Arabian horse a wonderful subject?
(Carol) With one exception –– a Spanish Mustang –– all my equine sculptures have been either Iberian or Arabian horses. Stu and I have two Lusitano stallions, on which we practice classical riding, and we have owned PREs (Andalusians). We show Arabians at Halter; and I also ride a black Arabian stallion on trails.
From an artistic standpoint, the Iberian and the Arabian are both wonderful subjects, truly yin and yang: The Iberians are very baroque in appearance –– majestic, powerful, compact, round, the horse of kings; the Arabians are energy incarnate –– elegant, sensitive, refined, fiery, the horse of the desert warrior. These wonderful qualities of the Arabian –– its essence, which to me is energy, as well as its unique sweetness –– are what I always strive to capture. When people look at one of my Arabian sculptures, I hope they see more than “pretty” –– I so wish viewers to feel its aliveness, its life force and character, pulsating out from the center of the bronze.
(Emma) Do you have a favorite piece you've made?
(Carol) My favorite piece is always the one on which I am working –– it’s the one with which I am mostly deeply engaged in the moment. Of course, often enough, on completion I do not like it quite so much –– then it finds itself relegated to a top shelf in my studio, to be reworked at some future time, or to sit indefinitely, as a reminder to do better!
Carol’s works are as varied as they are beautiful, capturing the souls of the animals they resemble. With an array of sizes, poses and mediums, there is something to catch the eye and heart of everyone who views her collections.