Artwork by Clarence and Russell Lee

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Clarence and Russell Lee: Father and Son Navajo Silversmiths:

Born in 1952 in Ft. Defiance, AZ, Clarence Lee ws the second oldest of six children.  His parents, Tom and Emma Rose Lee raised their children in Twin Lakes, NM.  Currently, all his siblings work with silver to one degree or another with the exception of a sister who works in the health care system.

Clarence learned his craft from his late father Tom Lee who built and owned a Trading Post in Twin Lakes and learned how to make silver jewelry to supplement his income when business at the Trading Post was slow.  Tom Lee fought in the Pacific Theatre during World War II, was a POW for four years and a survivor of the infamous “Death March of Bataan.”  He later became New Mexico’s first Native American State Senator.  Clarence’s mother, Emma was recognized  in her own right as the maker of the first Navajo Nation Flag.

Clarence discovered his love of art work in elementary school when a teacher saw promise and encouraged him to pursue his talent.  Later on at Tohatchi High School in New Mexico he met his first real art teacher Mrs. Hale.  Clarence favored his art classes over academic classes because he suffered from dyslexia.  In school he made metal sculptures and worked in oil and watercolors. (Clarence still paints occasionally)  Mrs. Hale also saw potential yet admonished him, “Don’t start giving stuff away.”  Her comments did not discourage him and while he was still in high school continued selling his jewelry to teachers.  In addition to his art, Clarence was interested in rodeo and participated in calf and team roping events.  Throughout his high school years, Clarence continues to help his father sell traditional jewelry.  When financial pressures grew Clarence left school just short of his high school graduation to support his family.

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This site was last updated on September 28, 2020.

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