ABOUT THE ARTIST
Bess Yanez has been carving Kachinas since the early 80's. Growing up watching her mother make kachinas, Bess thought it was only natural that she follow in her footsteps. While most kachina dolls are taller, Bess likes to do the smaller ones. She started out using the scraps of wood from her mother's larger dolls and determined that this was her niche. They range from 1 to 1 1/2 inches tall. Bess has done over 300 different kinds of kachinas. With the size, collectors have found these are wonderful to display without using a lot of space. Bess can do any doll and special orders. She also offers kachina doll repair for any size.
Bess has been written about in several publications. Here are just a few examples of how her work stands out.
The following is from " Minis Magnified" issue no.19, Friday 9, 2011;
Looking above the fireplace, one is immediately enticed by the distinctive array of kachinas, captured in miniature by Hopi artist, Bess Yanez. Among them are the Antelope Kachina, Owl Kachina, Parrot Kachina, Sun Kachina and White Ogre Kachina, each carved from cottonwood root, as is Hopi tradition.¹ In her article, From Mesas to Miniatures: Kachinas Tell Hopi Stories, author Barbara J. Aardema writes,
"For centuries, Hopi Indians have believed that spirits called kachinas inhabit the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, Arizona. The spirits, numbering about 300, all have particular functions within tribal life. The Hopi hold that kachinas come down to villages on three Arizona mesas at specific times during the year, usually between the winter solstice and mid-July. When this happens, Hopi men clad in colorful costumes, masks or headdresses, represent the spirits in dance."²
Yanez captures these costumes on a 1:12 scale, even noting the various nuances found between the three mesas, who each may dress the same
kachina in slightly different colors or masks. She uses bits of leather, fur and feathers to fashion their costumes, and paints them with tempera paints using brushes with only one or two hairs.³ Yanez learned the art of kachina carving from her mother, who was taught by Bess’ grandfather. Traditionally, only Hopi men could make kachina dolls, but times have changed. "There’s no problem with females doing dolls now," remarks Yanez. "Probably further back it wasn’t looked at as being very traditional." Yanez goes even further with her creative freedom, by taking what is typically an eight inch to one foot high doll and reducing it to the one inch scale. Thanks to her fine skills, collectors such as Arnell can add the Southwestern beauty of the Hopi to her collection.
Here is another example from "Travel Terrific" ,a premier travel magazine specializing in stories and photographs of international destinations.
"Here at Rainbow Man, owner Bob Kapoun has traded directly with the Indians for more than 30 years. Specialities include old (pre-1940) pawn jewelry, such as Concho belts, often made from melted coins, trade blankets and Edward Curtis' vintage photos of American Indians. I was particularly captivated by the two-inch-high Kachina dolls by Bess Yanez, a Hopi."
Bess's dolls are a wonderful addition to any art collection.Whether its one doll or 100, the feeling you get from having one of Bess's dolls is amazing! Please look and enjoy!