Wilmer Kaye is Hopi from the village of Hotevilla, Arizona and belongs to the Badger and Butterfly Clan. He resides in Zuni, N.M. with his wife’s family. Wilmer attended Phoenix Indian Art School, followed by vocational school in New Mexico.
Influenced by his culture and family, Wilmer began carving as a teen, taught by his Uncle Willard, and heavily influenced by his Uncle Charles Laloma, the innovator of contemporary Hopi native jewelry. Wilmer’s brother, Wilfred, also a kachina carver, and sister, Verma Nequatewa, world famous jeweler, emerged from their village to be the top in their mediums in the Native art world.
Using only a pocket knife and a rasp or two, Wilmer creates artwork that is highly collected by individuals, galleries and museums. He has the honor of being listed in many books on the subject of kachina carvings and his kachinas have graced the cover of Arizona Highway Magazine. Although his list of awards is long, one of the artist’s most memorable awards came when the owner of a Colorado ski resort commissioned a Snow Maiden sculpture to encourage snow, due to a drastic three year lack of snow on the mountain. The Snow Maiden, with her white head of coiled hair and moisture symbols above her eyes, brought the necessary “magic” and the mountain received a record amount of snow that year! As his Uncles taught him, “Each doll has a soul and a spirit and is meant to please who owns and admires it.”
Wilmer loves to hunt and explore his Native lands when not touring with his art. He also paints, does pottery, bronzes and glasswork, and has a smile that will light the room.