Rebecca Begay

Rebecca Begay

Hello! I would like to introduce myself to you as Rebecca Tonabah Begay. I am Todichi'nii (Bitter Water people) born for Deshchi'nii (Start of the Red Streak people). My maternal grandfathers' are Ashihi (Salt People) and my paternal grandfathers' are Hashtl'ishnii (Mud People).

I was born and raised on the Navajo Nation. Originally I am from the area of Crownpoint, New Mexico. The small, rural community where the rug auction is held every month. My parents did their best to provide for me and my siblings and for this I am grateful. I was raised mainly with Christian teachings and attended Christian schools. I feel that this was the best thing my parents did for me because it brought me to accept the Lord as my Savior and this makes me who I am as a Navajo woman.

In my family I have been one of the first to "explore" my artistic skills for my generation. My artistic background stems from both sides of my family. My mother's grandmother was a rug weaver and so was my father's grandmother. I remember my father used to sketch here and there and I recently found out that he made a few jewelry pieces also.

I can't say that I was encouraged by my family to pursue art, but I remember in 5th grade, I won first place in a reservation-wide poster contest that was a campaign against drugs and alcohol. This sparked my interest in art even more. My main influence was my high school art teacher, Elmer Yazzie, a Navajo painter. He taught us the basics of drawing, painting, and pottery but it was his passion for nature, sunsets, and life and recreating them onto paper that brought out the same creativity and passion for art in me. The prospect of being an artist intrigued me and has always been there.

After high school, I attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. My first major was Business Administration because it seemed the logical thing to do. However, after one semester I took the initiative to change my major to Art Education. I chose education as a back up and found myself much happier in my art classes. I was allowed to take only the basics of each art form. During the time I was taking Intro to Jewelry, I met Darryl. We were both new to the art world and we had a lot in common. From there the rest is history.

In the Fall of 1998, Darryl got into his "first big show" (Pueblo Grande Indian Market). This was also a big show for me because it was the first time I had ever seen so many Native American artists. The whole scene was fascinating and really inspiring. I always thought that the only place one could show their works were in big city galleries like those in New York. It was good to find out that the art scene was and is still thriving in the Southwest.

In the Fall of 2001, I was able to put my degree to use by teaching at my former high school. I was selected to teach high school art at Rehoboth Christian school here in New Mexico. There I gained the experience of being a teacher. I enjoyed my year there, especially the students that I had and the rest of the staff, but I felt the need to pursue my art. I am truly grateful for having that opportunity and hope to someday return to teaching. Right now, slowly, but surely I am producing what I can. Raising my three little boys has been my priority and everything else is coming about.

My other interests (besides jewelry) are drawing and painting. So you may see some of these on the website and possibly in shows, as I go along. There are other artists who have been an encouragement to me and whose work I admire they are Raymond & Colina Yazzie, Bill Russ & Carol Lee, Lyndon Tsosie, Carlton & Julie Jamon, Vernon Haskie, and Eugene Nelson. Robb Lucas, manager of Case Trading Post, has also been a good friend. Most of all, I thank God for the talent(s) that He has blessed us with, the people He brings into our lives and so much more.

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This site was last updated on November 21, 2017.

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