Youngblood, Christopher – Large Bowl with Peacocks and Phoenix
This is an impressive large jar by Christopher Youngblood. He creates intricately carved vessels that reflect a perfect balance of matte and polished surfaces with intricately carved designs. This is a jar with straight sides, which both creates a lot of vertical space for design, but also a lot of “volume” as the entire surface has to be designed! The jar has two large peacocks and a single Phoenix as the carved designs. Why these birds? Chris says that he chose them as the feathers allowed him more creativity for carving. However, he said that as he carved it he created numerous small areas and then a lot of polishing! One of the peacocks has oval tail feathers descending downward and each is fully polished! The second peacock has the plumage with the “eye” of each feather carved into the clay and the polished! Finally, the phoenix is perfectly designed with the lower flames encircling the bird as it is reborn from its ashes. Separating each of the birds is a section of large melon swirls that extend from the neck to the base. They are deeply carved, stone polished and they accentuate the lower shoulder of the jar. The crests of each bird are slipped with mica. The inside of the jar is also slipped with mica. What you can’t tell is that the jar is surprisingly light for the size! The matte surfaces which surround the birds are very smooth and enhance the polished and carved angles and surfaces. The jar was traditionally fired a deep black and it is signed on the bottom in the clay. I’m pleased that I have been working with Chris since 2010 when I wrote the first article on him for Native People’s magazine. It is exciting to see how his work has progressed over the years and the awards for his pottery, including the 2014 “Best of Pottery” at Santa Fe Indian Market. He was featured in the book, Spoken Through Clay, and continues to be one of the leading young potters working today.