Artist Spotlight: Kenneth and Irene White
Navajo artists Kenneth and Irene White are a prime example of a unique backstory, having both begun their artistry as silversmiths, then taking up pottery making as a hobby. Their recognizable style of pottery typically features imprints from stamping tools, as well as Yeibichai dancers, and we are thankful to both offer their pieces and call them friends.
Kenneth White was born on January 11, 1946, and Irene, on May 6, 1950, and both are of Navajo descent. While starting out as silversmiths, the couple slowly transitioned to pottery making after taking it up as a hobby. They credit Irene’s brother, Calvin Yazzie, as their teacher and mentor throughout the process, also stating they received inspiration for their pieces from watching the Yeibichai dancers at Winter Festival. Each of their pieces, in fact, depict the male and female Yei in beautiful, painted colors.
The couple, having experience with silversmithing tools, often use them to create patterns on their pottery, most often showcasing baskets and traditional step and geometric designs. After firing and painting their pieces, pine pitch is used to seal the design, giving the pottery a shiny finish. Kenneth and Irene became so adept at pottery making, and that, combined with their unique style, won them a frist place ribbon the very first year they created and entered their pieces into shows. Now, in addition to continuing to create gorgeous pieces of art, they are teaching their daughters to continue the tradition. They are the prime example of determination, innovation, and traditional values, and we hope to continue working with them and their family for many, many years.