Andy Lee Kirk was born in 1947 to parents of the Navajo and Isleta tribes. Starting in the early 1970s, he began a career as a silver and goldsmith. Under the tutelage and encouragement of Gibson Nez, Andy Lee immediately showed promise as an extremely talented jeweler.
Over the decades, Andy Lee produced many high end works of art- mastering the art of inlay/lapidary, bead rolling, and nearly all methods of jewelry fabrication. He became most famous for his high end work in gold and eventually won the IACA Artist of the Year in 1996. He went on to win many prestigious awards, including First Place at the Santa Fe Indian Market and and Best of Category at the Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial among many others.
Tragically, Andy Lee died at the height of his career in 2001. He left behind a legacy of beautiful lapidary jewelry and his talented daughter,Melanie Kirk-Lentecontinues his tradition of excellence in jewelry with her husband Michael Lente. Melanie says of her father, “His life was one-hundred-percent commitment to his art. He never believed in standing still... He embraced new technologies and techniques; he believed that art was always evolving, not standing still. It was this spirit of innovation that made his work come to life.” (McFadden & Taubman 2002:52)