Installing wall pieces
Still too high? Yes, but I do love them!
Spirits Rising, an exhibition of my work, opens April 3 at Red Earth Art Center in Oklahoma City. This is wildly exciting for me so I hope you will bear with my exuberance. Installation day was Friday, March 31, and I thought you might enjoy a couple of “behind the scenes” photos.
Tooled Leather and Turquoise
My newest works are sculptural wall pieces, with texture instead of sgraffito, and inlaid turquoise – yummy! The oxide washes I use give the clay the look of tooled leather and a rustic feel that is totally different from my black and white sgraffito work. The series of female figures are called Spirit Sisters and the guys are called Warrior Brothers.
Let me introduce you to two of them.
Tvshka Homma (Red Warrior)
©Carolyn Bernard Young, Tvshka Homma (Red Warrior), 13 x 5 x 1″, Stoneware, oxides, crushed turquoise
In 1861, the Choctaw Nation reluctantly sent more than a thousand warriors to fight with the Confederacy in the Civil War. They became known as fierce warriors.
Near the end of World War I, Choctaw soldiers were asked to use their native language to send coded messages about troop movements, battle plans, and supplies. They were the first Code Talkers.
Tvshka Homma means “red warrior” in Choctaw and is the capital of the Choctaw Nation (shortened to Tuskahoma by the Post Office).
Hollo (Feminine Essence)
In Choctaw culture, women were likened to Mother Earth. Givers of life and sustenance, they were revered. Family lines followed the female side, rather than the male. She was the property owner. When she died, her property did not revert to her husband, but went instead to her children and biological family. Even the children went to her family, not to her husband.
© Carolyn Bernard Young, Hollo (Feminine Essence), 14 x 5 x 1″, stoneware, oxides, crushed turquoise
Choctaw women have been known pick up the weapons of a fallen husband in battle and continue the fight. They were tough!
Join Me for a Closer Look
If you’re in the area, I’d love for you to come to the Opening Reception on Wednesday, April 5, 5-7 pm at the Red Earth Art Center, 6 Santa Fe Plaza, Oklahoma City.
Come on down and bring a friend!
© Carolyn Bernard Young, Ishki (Mother), stoneware mounted on board, sgraffito
It is with breathless anticipation that I announce my solo exhibition, Spirits Rising, opening April 3.
I am pleased to invite you to the Opening Reception April 5 from 5-7 pm at the Red Earth Art Center, 6 Santa Fe Plaza, Oklahoma City. If you are not in or around Oklahoma City, I hope you will share this invitation with friends who are.
Rising from the Dust
Spirits Rising began as an altered vessel – a winged serpent carved on the front and my vision of rising spirits on the back. These spirits speak of the culture of my people, rising from the dust of genocide to a vibrant community devoted to preserving our history, language & culture.
Next the spirits appeared on a lidded jar and I knew they must break away from a thrown vessel to have a life & stories of their own. It seemed to me as if the Spirit Sisters & Warrior Brothers leaped to the wall of their own accord.
A New Adventure
Spirits Rising embodies a new adventure for me, working with stoneware clay in a new way. As I move away from wheel-thrown work, I will continue to tell the stories of my tribe, my family, & the history of our country in the form of wall sculpture, figurative sculpture, & ceramic collage. I am thrilled that the clay still feeds my soul and makes my heart sing. The adventure has barely begun and I can hardly wait to see where it leads!
© Carolyn Bernard Young, Circle of Life, 4 x 20 x 3″, stoneware, sgraffito, mounted on poplar
It is an honor to have my work in the notable Red Earth Art Center, home to a permanent collection of over 1,100 items of fine art, pottery, basketry, textiles and beadwork – including the Deupree Cradleboard Collection, one of the finest individual collections of its kind in North America.
The show runs April 3 – May 30 and admission is free. The center is open Monday – Friday, 10am – 5pm.
©Carolyn Bernard Young, Warrior Spirit, 12 x 5.5 x 7.25″, stoneware, sgraffito – Available at Worrell Gallery in Santa Fe, NM
Daily Fight to Survive
Hummingbird is known as a warrior spirit with healing powers, and one of the strongest totems. The tiny hummingbird embodies the spirit of a great warrior. His daily fight for survival shows us that success is not only for the large and powerful. Etched in stoneware, this hummingbird will live on forever.
A Burning Desire
The bright orange finial adds a feeling of flame – that burning desire to thrive – and the graceful flight of the magical hummingbird. Inside you will find a matching orange glaze, making it food safe.
The feather pattern around the top is associated with prayer because of tribal beliefs that prayers are carried to the Great Spirit on the wings of an eagle. On the back is the Choctaw diamond pattern, indicating our deep respect for nature.
Available at Worrell Gallery
This wheel thrown, hand-etched, lidded jar is available at the Worrell Gallery, 103 Washington Ave, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Please call (505) 989-4900 for additional information or visit their website.
Happy New Year! Recently I read that the second Monday in January is called Blue Monday because of the let-down after the holidays.
©Carolyn Bernard Young, My Heart Isn’t Blue, 10.5 x 4 x 3″, stoneware on metal stand
A New Adventure
For me it has been a time of transition to a new body of work and a new way of working. Thrilling? Yes! Scary? Yes, of course! Change brings many problem solving opportunities and I thought you might enjoy hearing some of the kinks and quirks in the life of a ceramic artist.
There Were Kinks
When a ceramic piece will hang on the wall, all the problems associated with hanging it have to be resolved before I start making the piece. This involved a number of tests, trials & errors (emphasis on errors), but I came up with something I think will work well & be easy for the collector to hang. (See image below right.) So my new series of wall pieces are off & running!
And Some Quirks
Next I wanted to make small figurative sculptures displayed on a metal stand. The first problem was how to fire a piece with a tiny bottom – it needed support. So I made form from clay (called a chuck) that worked well for firing both in bisque and with glazes (see image below left). Next, after combing the internet and failing to find what I wanted, my sweet husband found a local welder who was willing to work with me and make the stands I designed. I love finding local folks to support my business! The photo shows the first sculpture on a mock-up stand – the final one will be similar with consistent edges.
Work in Progress, Hanging System
Work in Progress, Small Figure
But In the End
My Heart Isn’t Blue is the first of what I hope will be many of these wonderful figures. A friend recommended the title and I think it fits perfectly. And it deftly describes the first two weeks of the new year for me…my heart isn’t blue, it’s bursting with excitement! How about you?
©Carolyn Bernard Young, Spirits Rising (Back), 7.5″x7″, stoneware, Private Collection
Last month I gave you a little tease about my new direction…but just so you know I’m serious…I’ve sold two of my pottery wheels, making room in the studio for a third work table and two sculpture stations. (Hint: expect to see Spirits Rising (right) appear in different forms.)
Right now I’m working through the technical issues of how the wall sculptures will be hung and how the figurative sculptures will be displayed – it’s all very exciting and so much fun! Since my husband is a mechanical engineer, he has been a big help in working through some of my crazy ideas. Once again, I am reminded just how lucky I am to do what I love.
A Gift to Myself
At this time of year, it feels like I’ve given myself a huge gift…to pursue my passion in a new direction – and I feel absolutely giddy! I can’t wait to share this big adventure with you in 2017. So tell me, what is your passion and how will you nurture it in 2017? Share it in a comment below.
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A sneak peek: Spirit Sister wall sculpture in progress. ©2016 Carolyn Bernard Young
The first weekend of November, something close to 100 artists descended upon Golden, Colorado for three full days at Art Biz Breakthrough. Hosted each year by Alyson B. Stanfield, well-known and well-loved business coach for artists, it is truly a life-changing event for many who attend.
What was my Breakthough this year?
I came to grips with the fact I really want to move away from wheel-thrown work to make wall sculpture, figurative sculpture, totem poles, obelisks, who knows? I want to tell tribal stories, family stories, funny stories, MY stories in a way that has more impact than a simple turned pot.
My First Love
Don’t get me wrong, throwing is my first love and not likely to disappear completely, but you can expect to see fewer of those as this new body of work comes to life. Sgraffito will always find its way into my work, we’ll see just how that happens. Ideas are flowing faster than I can get them into a sketchbook. I’m beyond excited…and slightly terrified, but determined.
“Don’t Be Afraid”
John D. Rockefeller once said, “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” That is my mantra for 2017, so look out world!
Alyson B. Stanfield is the author of I’d Rather Be in the Studio – The Artist’s No Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion now in its 3rd edition, and founder of Art Biz Coach. She is a no-nonsense coach of the highest caliber and I have been privileged to work with her for the past two years. Through on-line classes, one-on-one coaching, and her Inner Circle of artists in all manner of media, we are laser focused on treating our art career as a small business and…dare I say it…making money as professional artists!
With deep gratitude for your support, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving,
© Carolyn Bernard Young, Wings of an Eagle, Altered Vessel, 5.5″ x 6.5″, stoneware, $225
We all have those days when we’d just rather pull the covers over our sleepy head and hide from the world. Been there, don’t think I’ve actually ever done it though.
For 32 years I had to get up at the unearthly hour of 5:00 am, sometimes 4:30 (ugh) – or depending on where I was in the world and what time my flight was departing, even earlier.
But no more! I retired from aerospace in 2009. Now I can sleep in to 6:30, maybe even 7:00 – what a luxury that seems to me (most days).
Why so early you say?
I’m an artist – I have to work in the studio every single day or there will be no art and I could no longer call myself an artist (a term I still have trouble saying). But I have good reasons for getting up so early. Here are just the top five:
- To have coffee on the back porch with my adorable husband.
- To drink in the peace of living in the country.
- To feed our three fur babies and give them lots of love.
- To walk the 100 feet to my studio, stretch a little, sketch a little, and plan my day.
- To get my hands in the clay…to throw, trim, carve, and fire the art I so love to make.
Yes, I am truly blessed to be living the creative life I’ve dreamed. I am profoundly grateful every day for that blessing.
Gratitude is wonderful thing
It breeds happiness. I hope you have five good reasons to get up in the morning. Please share with us some of your best reasons for rolling out of bed. And if you can’t think of five…that’s okay, just be grateful for those you have and before long, your list will grow…and grow…and grow.
P.S. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for my Studio Insiders email list – there are some fun things coming soon just for you! Click the button below, with the assurance I will never share your information.
©Carolyn Bernard Young, Red Dragonfly Mug, 5.5″ x 3.25″, stoneware
Yes, I know it’s only October, but I want you to have plenty of time to get involved. If you’re a fan of my handmade, hand carved, black & white sgraffito mugs with the bright color inside, then this is important…they will only be available during my first annual Merry Mug Madness on-line sale after Thanksgiving.
Get notified first, before I announce it to the world! When they’re gone, that’s it. I’m working hard to have a big selection but can’t promise how many mugs will be available. So…if you are not already…please click the button below to sign up for my Studio Insiders email list. You won’t hear from me every week but when you do, I promise it will be juicy stuff I share. AND I promise never to share your information, ever.
This week we’re headed to Tulsa for the Cherokee Art Market, October 8-9, at the Hard Rock Casino. If you’re in the area, please stop by & say hello!
© Carolyn Bernard Young, Transforming Grace, 8×5″, stoneware, $475
Over the past several months, many of you have asked if you could purchase pottery on my website. So…I’m delighted to announce…NOW you can!
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© 2016 Carolyn B Young, Terrapin Races Rabbit II, 10×5″, stoneware
Red Earth is an event dear to my heart. It is an organization committed to promoting the rich traditions of American Indian arts and cultures through their museum and fine art markets. For 30 years, the Red Earth Festival has showcased Native American artists and dancers during its 3-day event in Oklahoma City. I was honored to be awarded 1st Place in Contemporary Pottery this year for my lidded jar titled, Terrapin Races Rabbit II.
For the first time ever, I danced in the Grand Entry, dressed in traditional Choctaw regalia. You may have seen traditional Native American dancers or witnessed a Grand Entry and thought it colorful and entertaining. Have you wondered about the different “costumes” (for the record, the correct term is “regalia”) and dance styles? Let me tell you a little of what I have learned.
A Pow Wow, sometimes called a Festival, is a gathering of Native American tribes to celebrate with singing and dancing to honor their cultures. A Grand Entry is held at the beginning of each session – usually one on Friday night, two on Saturday (noon and after dinner), and one on Sunday afternoon. The dance arena is first blessed and is considered sacred ground for the duration of the celebration.
Red Earth Grand Entry Eagle Staff
Red Earth Grand Entry Flag Bearers
Eagle Staff Leads the Grand Entry
followed by Flag Bearers carrying the American flag, state & tribal flags, and often the MIA-POW flag. Everyone is asked to stand and dancers are reminded they are “dancing for their ancestors”. The procession continues in a circle around the arena, adding ever more dancers, matching their steps to the beat of the drums. Once all the dancers are in the arena, a song honors the Eagle Staff and flags. A prayer is offered, followed by a victory song while the Eagle Staff and flags are placed in their standards.
Each group of dancers is led by a Head Dancer, who represents their particular style of dancing. Head Dancers are selected for his or her knowledge of tribal traditions and customs, as well as their own dance reputation. It is an honor to be chosen Head Dancer, to serve as leader and model for the rest of the dancers. Our Head Dancer was Carol Ayers (in yellow), a fellow Choctaw artist, friend, and the one who mentored me through the Grand Entry process. Her last words to us as we entered the arena were, “Hold your heads high ladies, we are dancing for our ancestors!” And we did.
Dancing for My Mom!
Red Earth Grand Entry – Women’s Southern Cloth
Tears of joy streamed down my face, yet I couldn’t stop smiling. I was dancing in the Grand Entry at Red Earth – for my mom! My dress was a traditional Choctaw dress with apron, made by fellow Choctaw artist Judy Davis.
Notice the diamond pattern, found throughout Choctaw culture. It is the Choctaw symbol for respect for nature and is found somewhere on almost every piece I make. The exquisite beaded collar and earrings were created especially for me by Chester Cowen, fellow Choctaw artist and tribal historian. The feather fan I carried was purchased in the Badlands of South Dakota and hand made by a Navajo artist. My shawl with the 18″ fringe was purchased in Oklahoma.
Close up of Choctaw diamond pattern on the dress and beaded collar.
Other women’s dance divisions include Northern Traditional, Fancy Shawl, Jingle Dress and Buckskin. Men’s divisions include Northern Traditional, Southern Traditional, Fancy Dance, and Grass Dance. Depending on the location, inter-tribal and community dances may also be included such as the Southern Plains Gourd Dance, a society dance for veterans and their families.
I am no expert, but this reflects what I have learned. Tribes have their own social dances and ritual dances that may or may not be performed for the public.
For me, this experience touched my soul. I hope my sharing it gives you a peek into the rich culture of Native Americans.
Yakoke! (Thank you)
Carolyn Bernard Young