Saturday, October 17, 2009
Phillip John Charette ~ Raku Amikuk Mask
Phillip John Charette's Raku Amikuk mask is on permanent display in the Native American Arctic Room Collection of the Portland Art Museum. Charette says that the mask sculpture "teaches us to be aware of our surrounding and to tread lightly when we are in unfamiliar territory. This mask is good for anyone who does much travel in unfamiliar or dangerous territory."
At a size of six by five feet the mask is quite large. It's main body, ears, hands, and labrets are hand sculpted and carved. It has been Raku Fired with custom glazes made by artist. Charette also made the Dichroic glass beads that are located on the forehead. Those beads represent spirits that influence this being. There's a great deal going on in this mask. Take a look at the teeth, the outer feathers and labret bones. They are hand sculpted porcelain. The red oak frame is bent using a traditional method and attached to the mask with rawhide. Charette used horse hair fired porcelain to create the outer feathers and are meant to represent chaos in traditional spirtual beliefs. Instead of traditional Owl feathers Charette used dark turkey feathers to "represent spirits in the universe this being can see." The back of mask is painted with spiritual symbols.
Phillip John Charette's Native American name is "Aarnaquq", which in the Yup'ik language means "The One Who Is Dangerous".
In addition to masks, Charette also makes flutes. Here he is performing "Raven Finds the Meal".