Local Spotlight — Yurok Designs & Photography

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“I am passionate about learning traditional ways and listening to the stories. I have decided to be public about my passion out of respect for my culture and my family of artisans.” – Kristi J. Smith, Yurok Designs & Photography

If you’ve ever visited the Yurok Country Visitor Center, Redwood Hotel Casino, or galleries throughout the North Coast, you may be familiar with Yurok Designs & Photography. Their apparel and photography pay tribute to the Yurok tribe and carry on an artistic tradition through photographs, art, cards, woven baskets, and other crafted goods.


Prints from Yurok Designs & Photography – Photo Source: Yurok Designs & Photography Facebook

Though you may have seen the works you might not be as familiar with the history behind them. Yurok Designs & Photography was created by Kristi J. Smith in an effort to celebrate her tribe’s history, tradition, and legacy. Coming from five generations of McKinnon family artists, Smith was exposed to the basket craft and jewelry of her ancestors at an early age. Furthermore she learned first hand through the weavings of her great grandmother Nettie McKinnon. “I have always known my family’s collection of baskets and regalia was special. Growing up I knew the basket collection was unique compared to my peers. When Nettie lived with us, I knew what she was doing (weaving) was unlike anyone else I knew.”

Now an artist herself, Smith incorporates these designs and traditions in her own crafts. These wares are for sale in several locations, including Yurok Designs & Photography’s own website, the Visitor Center, and Redwood Hotel Casino. The goods are impeccably made and provide a unique glimpse into tribal motifs intermingled with style and flair.


Yurok Designs & Photograph on Display – Photo Source: Yurok Designs & Photography Facebook

Beyond the goods she sells, Smith has showings of her work at galleries and museums throughout the North Coast. These photographs, prints, and canvasses pay further homage to the craft of the Yurok Tribe. If you’re interested in seeing some of this work for yourself (and we recommend it!), be sure to visit the Humboldt Area Foundation in Bayside, CA to see the Canvas Show through to June 2016.

As you can see, Yurok Designs & Photography is more than just photography and goods. It’s a glimpse into a different time, into an art form, into a culture, and into a family tradition spanning five generations.  We look forward to seeing more work coming from Kristi J. Smith and Yurok Designs & Photography in the future.