Derrick Kaamasee: Derrick Kaamasee is one of the innovative carvers of Zuni. A man who is about 55 years old, he has been carving since the late 1980's. Derrick learned from his uncles (who are brothers): Pernell (who died in 2008) & Maxx Laate. Derrick's cousin; Esteban Najera also learned from Pernell & Maxx - though he started carving around 1990 - so he is younger than Derrick; probably by 10 years. The whole family first carved with stones before they discovered antler was more to their liking. Derrick was first more interested in painting & pottery before he honed in on a preference for stone carving. He rarely carves in antler.
In our mind; Derrick is one of the BEST bird carvers in Zuni - it seems to be his preferred subject. He meticulously finds ways to carve the feathers that doesn't seem repetitive - choosing different ways to describe the wing's scapular & covert feathers. The birds are perched on top of a rocky precipice - observing the world or often times, they are roosting on a nest with chicks.
Derrick is known for the fine detail he brings to his work; often times, he carves a base from the same stone so that he can carve legs in the round. Derrick carves large dancers in pipestone, like the Eagle, Mudhead, Deer, Bear & Owl dancer. He also carves social dancers like the Apache Crown Dancer, the Hano Clown, the Horned Owl, Bear and Antelope Dancer. Derrick has even carved large pipestone Butterfly, Corn and Squash maidens though it has been some time since we have received any of his dancers or maidens. The dancers always have a base carved from the same stone, allowing the feet to be carved in the round and creating stability for Derrick's dancers tend to be quite large.