Artist Kevin Fast Horse: The Early Years

In take #3 of our visit to Kevin's studio, he tells us about his early career as an artist (at age 5) when he started doing beadwork for his uncles, his need to faithfully document everything, and he and Rose share a laugh about their first meeting, here at Prairie Edge.

[Tracey] How long have you been beading?
[Kevin] Over 40 years (since I was 5). I would do a technique called scatter beading - I would just take a string with a needle and try to pick up all the beads as fast as I could. My uncles would then use these to decorate their skull crackers and war clubs (their weapons had heads made of alabaster rock attached to wooden shafts and they would wrap my scatter beads as around them)…and that's how I started beading.

My uncle Nick later got into dolls and I started loom beading the arm bands, the belts, and breastplates…and then the pay got better [he says with a smile].

Then I started doing belt buckles, hat bands, and watch bands…but I never did earrings or key chains. The funny part about this is when I tell people I'm a beadwork artist, the first thing they think of is key chains.

I just [smile and] explain I do serious beadwork and my designs are more elaborate, pre-reservation items.

[Kevin] These are all my photo albums from when I started working with Prairie Edge (I'll be starting my 7th book soon). [In these books] I have a picture of everything I have ever done. I haven't missed anything…

[Rose] As an artist in 1989…that's how I first met Kevin. At the time, we had a no pictures policy in our gallery and Kevin came walking in and started photographing some of the beadwork.

I walked up to him and said, "Excuse me Sir, but we have a no pictures policy".
Kevin returned with, "That's okay, I made it".
…so I smiled and said, "I guess if it's yours, you can photograph it".

[Rose] And we've been good buds ever since.
[Kevin] Ever since.