Kristi J. Smith
Kristi J. Smith
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.
In fact, she has been surrounded by her family’s rich collection of art all of her life. Nettie lived with her family throughout the 1980s—watching her as a youngster, Smith collected knowledge and now brings the rich heritage of multi generations to her own artwork.
Her original notion was to share the traditions of the Yurok tribe on Facebook through family photographs and multi-generational artwork. From there, she recognized a thriving marketplace from so many others who also appreciate the legacy of Native Americans and who appreciate seeing the work Nettie created..
Today, Yurok Designs and Photography is not only about selling merchandise, but spreading awareness. Foremost, Smith is consumed by her art, the designs and the traditional ways of creating. Surrounding her reservation are the beautiful California coast, the ocean, trees and imminent natural beauty. She says, “I am passionate about preserving nature and contributing to the Native community in any way that I can. I feel as if I am continuing what my ancestors created by sharing their work with the world.”
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.