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Lisa Ludwig's Porcelain Forest Dwellers Come Alive at Moody Gallery

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Lisa Ludwig made a name for herself making cake sculptures out of sugar cubes and crafting enchanting, elaborate installations. One of her most memorable shows at Moody Gallery involved a field of silica in the center of the gallery that sprouted barren trees and had crystalline apples lying in the "snow."

Over the course of a 20-plus-year career, of course, interests evolve. And in her latest show at the Colquitt space -- her seventh -- Ludwig's sculptures are composed of more traditional -- and permanent -- materials (porcelain), and they line the gallery walls on shelves and pedestals in an ordinary fashion. Still, that doesn't make them any less strange and intriguing.

Despite what the show's name might imply, in "Black Black Forest," there is a striking absence of black -- or any color whatsoever. All the pieces are stark white, just the color of the porcelain after it came out of the kiln. The only color comes from tulips that occupy three of Ludwig's functional vases.

Though they are devoid of any color, the sculptures are so minutely detailed, they aren't lost to the white walls. The animals and objects they depict are instantly recognizable, too. Ludwig's forest is teeming with toads, birds, mice, snakes and rabbits surrounded by matches, spools of thread, even sweet gherkin pickles -- she is that specific. The animals aren't dead stoic things, either; they have a sense of purpose and even diligence as they go about their business. Snakes coil through twigs. A bird surrounded by spools of thread has a needlepoint in its mouth. Rabbits stand upright holding branches or blindfolds, some quixotically sporting these blindfolds themselves.

As the crafter of these mysterious scenes, Ludwig doesn't provide any overt clues to the little dramas at play - all 13 sculptures are untitled. Still, the fact that these colorless porcelain sculptures are teeming with such life and curiosity is impressive. All the color that's needed is in the craft.

"Lisa Ludwig: Black Black Forest" at Moody Gallery, 2815 Colquitt Street, runs now through March 23. For more information, call 713-526-9911 or visit www.moodygallery.com.

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