For 33 years Carolyn Bernard Young was a quality engineer for a major aerospace company. Her job took her to countries throughout Europe and the Middle East. As a way to relieve stress from her hectic job, she discovered and fell in love with clay. Today, the Choctaw artist has had a major career shift and is winning accolades for her beautiful wheel thrown objects and sculptural pieces at art shows throughout the country.
The unique artworks of Carolyn Bernard Young are featured in a solo exhibition entitled “In the Spotlight: Carolyn Bernard Young – Spirits Rising” on view April 3 through May 30 at the Red Earth Art Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
“Spirits Rising began as an altered vessel – a winged serpent carved on the front and my vision of rising spirits on the back,” said Young about her art and career. “These spirits speak of the culture of my people, rising from the dust to a vibrant community devoted to preserving our history, language and culture.
“My work is contemporary Native American pottery that begins on the potter’s wheel or with a slab of white stoneware clay,” Young says. “With a potter’s wheel and electric kiln, I try to bring a modern voice to the clay, while still honoring the art and traditions of my ancestors.”
Young is a “Fort Worthian” with Oklahoma Choctaw roots. “My mother was Choctaw and, upon her passing, I found a copy of the 1896 Choctaw role listing my grandmother, Lilllie Impson, as a young child,” she says. “Years passed, and finally, after I retired and caught my breath, I submitted the paperwork to the Choctaw Nation. Now, I am proud to say, I am a registered Choctaw artist and member, by blood, of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.”
At the 2016 Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma City, Young received the First Place Award in Contemporary Pottery. She also won first and second place in Pottery at the 2016 Choctaw Indian Art Market.. Her talent as an artist has been recognized at art festivals throughout the country with additional awards from Eiteljorg Museum Indian Art Festival in Indianapolis, Five Civilized Tribes Museum Show in Muskogee, Trail of Tears Art Show in Tahlequah and the Cherokee Art Market in Tulsa.
Her work has been exhibited at the Southern Plains Indian Museum in Anadarko and the Fort Worth Community Art Center Biennial. Young’s pieces are in the permanent collection of the Red Earth Art Center, Choctaw Nation Museum in Tuskahoma, OK and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Tribal Headquarters in Durant, OK.
A reception to meet the artist is scheduled Wednesday, April 5 from 5-7 pm at the Red Earth Art Center. The event is free and open to the public.
The Red Earth Art Center in downtown Oklahoma City hosts a diverse and changing schedule of art and historical exhibitions. It is custodian of 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.
Red Earth Inc is an Allied Arts member agency, and is funded in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The Red Earth Art Center is open free to the public Monday through Friday at 6 Santa Fe Plaza next to the historic Skirvin Hilton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. Visit www.RedEarth.org or call (405) 427-5228 for additional information. Red Earth, Inc. is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote the rich traditions of American Indian arts and cultures through education, a premier festival, a museum and fine art markets.