Kristi J. Smith (Yurok Designs and Photography) tells us about her inspiration for photography and basket caps
This cap was made by my great grandma, Nettie McKinnon. I have always been fortunate to be around her work. She lived with us in the 1980's, in Chico, in a studio on my parent's property. I was able to see her in action...from preparing materials, to weaving and other traditions. I remember Nettie spending her time doing the simple things. Preparing traditional foods, weaving, etc. I was too young to realize how blessed I am to have had those years with her. My brother and I are the first generation to grow up outside of the reservation, and I often think about what it would be like to have had the opportunity to grow up immersed in my culture. This cap is one of the first pieces I chose to photograph. I have always been attracted to the designs. There is something special about this design, known as "friendship," it ties me to my ancestors and my culture. This cap, I have been told, would be worn by a young 'single' woman. Something about that is very innocent and simple, two things I am drawn to. I am passionate about learning traditional ways and listening to the stories. I have decided to be public about my passion out of respect for my culture and my family of artisans. It is priceless to me, and I hope that sharing Nettie's work will inspire others to hold on to and pass on traditions.
With intentions on celebrating her heritage as a member of Native American Yurok tribe—and honoring a four-generation family of artisans—artist and photographer Kristi J. Smith is the Founder of Yurok Designs and Photography. Providing an online destination to celebrate her tribe’s legacy, history and tradition, Smith is maintaining the creativity established by her great-grandmother Nettie McKinnon, who was a master in weaving and basketry.She launched Yurok Designs and Photography to pay homage to the long line of fellow artists in her family, providing a vast selection of handmade woven baskets, as well as photography, art and cards. Smith currently sells her custom wares via the Native Women’s Collective in Arcata, California, with an official retail outlet due to open by year-end 2014. Items will also be available at the Redwood Hotel & Casino, located on the Yurok Reservation in Klamath, CA. Indeed, the tradition continues with Yurok Designs and Photography.
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