Kirk Smith, Navajo, was born January 27, 1957 in Breadsprings. He was a prolific silversmith who produced stunning silver and stone Navajo Jewelry from 1972 until his untimely passing in 2012.
“My grandfather made jewelry and began teaching me. He was very secretive about it. In a canyon away from their hogan he had dug out the earth and then placed brush and tree limbs over the top. This was his workshop and you would not see it unless you knew it was there. I stayed with my grandparents until the 1960s. He kept his workshop away from the house. I was around 9 years old. Then I went to live with my mother in Crownpoint.
“Around 1972, I went out on my own. Started making my first pieces and would sell to Gilbert Ortega. The work was all silver and was sand cast work. However, when silver got high around 1974 I stopped making jewelry and went to work for the mine. I did lots of different stuff, even worked for a refinery around Galveston. Did these different jobs for the rest of the 1970s.
My sister was married to Harry Morgan (Master Navajo Silversmith) and he really taught me how to design a piece. Before, I never really paid much attention to the style. That changed because of Harry. He also had a big name and was well known. I wanted to be one of those people. My grandfather told me, “When you leave something here, your name will always be here.”
(from American Indian Jewelry III, M-Z, by Schaaf)
Kirk Smith’s work is some of the finest produced and is highly collectible. His death has left a huge hole in the high end Navajo jewelry marketplace.