Fred Kabotie – Hopi

Published on June 11, 2014 by Carol

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Hopi Ceremonial Dance. Fred Kabotie

(Fred Kabotie was born in Shungopori, AZ, c. 1900; d 28 Feb 1986).

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A Native American Hopi painter, Kabotie was born into a farming family and educated in traditional Hopi customs.

As a child he scratched images of kachinas (supernatural beings) on rocks in his father’s field. He continued to draw such images when he attended the Santa Fe Indian School, later claiming that he did so to relieve his loneliness and to remind him of home.

In 1918 he joined the informal painting sessions given at the school by Elizabeth DeHuff (1887–1983). Kabotie became one of the first Hopi artists to gain national recognition when in 1920 his work was shown at the annual exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York City.

He was at his most productive in the 1920s and 1930s, executing such works as the Snake Dance (watercolour, c. 1922–30; New York, Mus. Amer. Ind.). His descriptive manner of shading and modelling, close attention to detail, meticulous brushwork and sophisticated use of and emphasis on colour became distinctive features of later Hopi painting.

Kabotie also used traditional Native American techniques, such as painting on hides. In 1941 his reconstruction of a prehistoric Awatovi mural (Cambridge, MA, Harvard U., Peabody Mus.) was shown in the exhibition Indian Art of the United States at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

In 1945 Kabotie received a Guggenheim fellowship, and in 1954 he was awarded the French government’s Palmes d’Académique for his contribution to Native American art. As a founder- member, in 1941, of the Hopi Silvercraft Cooperative Guild and of the Hopi Cultural Center, both located in Second Mesa, AZ, Kabotie contributed to the preservation of traditional Hopi arts and encouraged younger artists, including his son Michael Kabotie (b 1942). Michael was a founder-member of the Artist Hopid, an organization formed in 1973 to promote Hopi arts and culture.

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