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This piece from Choctaw artist Carolyn Bernard Young, titled “Father Sky Home,” is among the many pieces of hers that go on exhibit Friday at the Southern Plains Indian Museum in Anadarko.

Choctaw artist featured at Southern Plains museum

ANADARKO - The works of Choctaw artist Carolyn Bernard Young will begin exhibition at the Southern Plains Indian Museum Friday with an opening reception.

The museum, 801 E. Central Blvd., will feature Young's work through Oct. 23. The exhibition begins with an opening reception from 4-6 p.m. Friday, and Young will be there to discuss her work. The reception and exhibition are both free and the public is invited. 

Young, an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is a talented potter, said Bambi Hampton, museum director. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Young now lives in Weatherford, Texas, where she owns Earth to Art Studio and Gallery. 

The artist began her training over 20 years ago when she enrolled in a ceramics class to relieve the stress of her job in the aerospace industry, Hampton said. Young spent many years taking a week each summer at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tenn., where she learned pottery techniques from professionals. At her home in Texas she spent time taking additional classes and practicing her craft daily. 

Following retirement from the aerospace industry in 2009, Young began working full-time as an artist. She also credits Ian Thompson of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma for teaching her traditional methods of building vessels by hand and firing them in an open pit. 

Young said her first step in the artistic process is the sketch of an envisioned piece. She then uses a potter's wheel to form her contemporary pottery. After the piece takes its final shape she then paints it with a black underglaze, followed by the sgraffito technique, meaning "to scratch," to carve totems, spirits and patterns into the pottery, Hampton said. She then adds brightly colored glazes to create a unique element of surprise and whimsy before finally firing each piece in an electric kiln.

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