Kai was three years old when he painted this tile in 2003 at the request of Rutt Bridges. In a 8/18/03 email to Rutt, Kai’s mother Donella wrote that her son “made a tile and painted it himself. We fired it this past weekend and it came out very nice.” (Email on file.) Much of the painting on both front and back look like the enthusiastic work of a three-year old. Tiles are difficult to form; they tend to curl when drying. From the flat form and the mixture of painting styles, it’s probably that Kai’s mother made the tile and signed it for Kai. She probably also added two sets of bird tracks to his design. Rutt bought the tile on 7/5/03 from Kai’s mother, Donella Zacarias and picked it up from Kai’s grandmother’s booth at Indian Market in August of that year.
Kai is seven generations removed from his great-great-great grandmother “Old Lady” Nampeyo. His grandmother is Jean Sahme. There is considerable evidence that such heritage provides him with an abundance of potter genes. Thus, tile 2009-21 may someday become valuable because it is the first known piece of pottery painted by a famous Hopi-Tewa artist.
For a pot by his older sister Munsi Zacarias, see 2009-22. For pots in the collection by the previous six generations of his family, see the Artist List.