Michael Kabotie was born on September 3, 1942 on the Hopi Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona. He grew up in the village of Shungopavi and attended school on the reservation until the Hopi high school was closed. He graduated from Haskell Indian School in Lawrence, Kansas in 1961. While in his junior year there he was invited to spend the summer at the Southwest Indian Art Project at the Universigty of Arizona. Participants included Fritz Scholder, Helen Hardin, Charles Loloma and Joe Hererra (who became a life long friend and his primary artist mentor).
After high school, Michael attended the University of Arizona, studying engineering. After dropping out of college he held a one-man show at the Heard Museum and his work was on the cover of Arizona Highways magazine.
In 1967 Michael underwent his Hopi manhood initiation into the Wuwutsim Society and was given his Hopi name, Lomawywesa (Walking in Harmony).
Both Michael and his father, Fred Kabotie, have been innovators in the Native American Fine Arts Movement, creating paintings that reflect traditional Hopi life in contemporary media. Fred Kabotie was one of the Hopi artists responsible for developing the trademark overlay methods used today by many Hopi silver and goldsmiths. He is also the painter of the Watchtower murals in the Grand Canyon.
Michael was introduced to silverwork by Wally Sekayumptewa of Hotevilla in 1958. His cousins Walter Polelonema, McBride Lomayestewa and Mark Lomayestewa also influenced him early on. He uses the overlay technique developed by his father and friends in the 1940s and 50s. You’ll see in his jewelry, however, a distinct style of his own; a style echoed in his paintings. In 1973, he was a founding member of Artist Hopid, a group of painters experimenting in fresh interpretations of traditional Hopi art forms. This group of five artists worked together for over five years.
Michael’s book of poetry, Migration Tears: poems about transitions was published in 1987 by UCLA. He has lectured across America, in New Zealand, Germany and Switzerland and has taught Hopi overlay techniques at the Idyllwild Arts Foundation, Idyllwild, California for over thirteen years. You can find his works in museums around the world, from the Heard Museum in Phoenix to the British Museum of Mankind in London, England, and the Gallery Calumet- Neuzzinger in Germany..
Michael’s art reflects his Hopi mentors, the pre-European Awatovi kiva mural painters and the Sikyatki pottery painters with a contemporary interpretation.