January 5, 2015 – March 13, 2015
Kachina dolls inspire artist to keep carving
Kachinas – Handcarved by Mike Aguirre, is the first of several planned exhibits for 2015, and officially opened Jan. 7. Featuring 14 handcarved Kachinas crafted by Aguirre, plus one authentic Hopi Kachina, several pieces of jewelry, peace pipes, knives and other artistic and organic elements. Aguirre has been crafting such pieces since the early 1980s. It began with a visit to Santa Fe, N.M. Seeing an exhibit of Kachina dolls, he began asking questions about their history, how they were created and wanted to learn more.
Inspired by the Pueblo Indians and Hopi tribe’s cultures and beliefs, the former Marlow, OK, resident’s fascination primarily centers around the Kachinas. He strives to make them as accurate as he can, but makes no claim on his Kachinas being true Hopi figures. The kachinas are carved from the root of a cottonwood tree, after it has cured for a year.
They are symbolic as “Caretakers of the Earth” in the Hopi culture.
“I am not Hopi. I just love to carve and can get lost in making them. I have spent up to 150 hours on one Kachina,” Aguirre said.
“They have stories. I have tried to learn as much as possible about them.”
Aguirre, 72, and his wife, Carol, recently moved from Marlow to Wichita, Kan., to be closer to their children and grandchildren. While not a Hopi, he respects and admires the culture and historical importance of Kachinas. His exhibit at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center was the second one to feature his work, which includes jewelry, knives honed, with blades carved from deer antlers, paintings and wire-crafted scorpions. He lived in Oklahoma for about 20 years, but is now a resident near Wichita, Kansas, where he lives with his wife, Carol.