Esther Ervin can draw her way around medical procedures as well as create a piece of sculpture.
The Seattle artist is one of 11 Northwest artists represented in The Freedom to See Ourselves: A Celebration of Cultures exhibition at the Consolidated Information Center at Washington State University Tri-Cities in Richland.
Ervin's artistic passion is sculpture and jewelry design that incorporates a wide range of styles.
"My work is an exploration in mixing cultures, techniques, materials and imagination, resulting in reflections of my inner spirit," she explained. "And I want people to be able to appreciate them in their own way."
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Her pieces seem to mesh with the concept of the exhibition, which is co-sponsored by the Richland school's Multicultural Club in conjunction with its Martin Luther King Jr. Inter-generational Conversation.
Some of Ervin's intricate carvings feature gourds, which she explains are curvaceous contours that inspire her to create many forms derived from nature. She accents them with copper, beads, quills and shells.
She was introduced to the art of metalsmithing in 2007 while an artist in residence at the Pratt Fine Art Center in Seattle.
Ervin grew up in New Jersey and received a degree in biology from the University of California, Irvine.
But long before Ervin was making a living as an artist, she traveled the world. She spent a year in Beirut in 1973, and later served as a Peace Corps volunteer in South America. She taught speed reading and comprehension training at the college level and worked in the financial sector for a time before getting married at age 46.
She was a medical illustrator before she and her husband, artist Al Doggett, launched their own studio in Seattle several years ago. His work also will be featured at the exhibition in Richland.
Their studio provides photograph restoration, graphic design and layout. They also illustrate children's books.
"I made a prediction in my childhood that I would not marry young," Ervin said. "I see myself as a slow developer, a late bloomer, if you will. But waiting to marry as late as I did was a good thing."
Her love of nature is equally applied in her welded metal sculpture using steel mesh and copper to create the flowing shapes of fish with curlicues accented by a heat-applied patina.
"I'm primarily a mixed-media sculptor, but I enjoy the challenge of experimenting with all kinds of unusual materials," Ervin said.
And that's what The Freedom to See Ourselves exhibit is all about.
"This exhibition is about introducing people to different cultures through art," Ervin said.
The other artists represented in the show include Romson Regarde Bustillo, Kimberly Camp, Patrick Fleming, Adela Gonzalez, Mark Horiuchi, George Jennings, Kamla Kakaria, Hugo Ludeña and Cameron Anne Mason.
The exhibit continues through Feb. 9 at WSU Tri-Cities. Admission is free. Gallery hours are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org