By JESSE BERTEL
Across the Street

Kevin Horace-Quannie is a Hopi/Navajo contemporary artist and has been a carver of kachina sculptures since 1980. He is a member of the Water and Corn Clan from his Hopi heritage and the Salt Clan from his Navajo side.

Horace-Quannie specializes in carving contemporary kachina dolls using cottonwood roots, whereby he takes artwork one step beyond traditional methods. He spoke with Across the Street staff ahead of his upcoming visit as a guest artist at the Museum of Indigenous People, 147 N. Arizona Ave., Prescott, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11. The following interview was edited for length and clarity.

What inspired you to become an artist?

My parents were in higher education all their career, and they retired from education, from Arizona State University, going to NAU and then going to State College in Pennsylvania to do their undergrad work. I just saw how long it took them. I went a year to college and it wasn’t for me. So, I moved back to Hopi and got married and was in law enforcement for about three and a half years and a partner of mine was killed in the line of duty.

So, I decided to work for my father. He retired from education and opened up a little store at the Hopi Cultural Center on Second Mesa. I just started buying kachina dolls from First, Second and Third Mesa and found an interest in it. Even though we do that, we carve and we do like the little gifts for our ceremonies and I decided to just take it as a career and didn’t look back. My friend told me, you know, “Once you get past five years, you’ll be ok, but you still got to, you know, work hard to get to the next level.”

I was picked up in 1986 by a gallery called Gallery 10. That was in Scottsdale, Carefree and Santa Fe. So, he talked to me. He said, “Kevin, this is what I could do for you, and I can take care of your family and you don’t have to worry. Just create art. So, that’s what I did until in ‘91 when he passed away from colon cancer. He taught me marketing, to go out and not to be afraid, to go through all the ups and downs of trying to be successful with art.

What is the hardest part about being an artist?

It’s a lonely career because you’re there by yourself traveling and your family’s home. But when you get to a certain point in life, then it just opens up more doors because you become more successful. Then, you get to a point where it’s not about money anymore. It’s about educating and being creative and using the gift that you have.

For more information about Kevin Horace-Quannie’s work, visit waterbirdstudios.com.

Jesse Bertel is a reporter/videographer for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @ JesseBertel, email him at jbertel@prescottaz.com, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2043.

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