Rebecca T. Begay is a jeweler and artist who was inspired to be an artist at an early age. Rebecca is pleased that her pursuits have become a reality. In the fall of 1997, she first learned to make jewelry at her alma mater, Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. That same year, Rebecca also met her husband, Darryl Dean Begay who had just learned the jewelry-making tufa cast technique from his uncle. Rebecca then learned tufa casting from Darryl, but she didn’t begin making jewelry until later as she also has a degree in Secondary Art Education. After graduating college, Rebecca taught high school art courses at Rehoboth Christian school in NM for one year. However, she decided that raising her three sons was her main priority and focused on raising them first in their early years and made jewelry occasionally.
It wasn’t until 2006 that Rebecca began entering the Indian art markets and was a 2006 recipient of the Goodman Fellowship Award from the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, NM. In 2008, Rebecca received a SWAIA Fellowship and since then, she has received numerous awards for her jewelry and collaborations with her husband Darryl, who is also an established jeweler. Together, Rebecca and Darryl work along with their youngest son, Robert Whitehair Begay, an up-and-coming jeweler. Now that Rebecca and Darryl’s sons are grown, young men, Rebecca hopes to be able to fully pursue other artistic endeavors, as she deems herself an artist rather than a jeweler only.
Regarding her tufa cast work, Rebecca says, “I really enjoy carving the tufa stone. I love the texture that the tufa presents. I mainly love it because I get to draw on the tufa. I love drawing as well and hope to start drawing again soon now that my sons are grown. I primarily depict florals in my jewelry. Various flowers that I create from my mind, although I do depict actual flowers like lilies at times and my main choice are cherry blossoms. The florals from my mind are focused more on the various textures, elements, and principles of design that I can portray on the tufa stone such as using different thickness of lines or shape. I also really enjoy using those elements in a contemporary way when creating images other than flowers and vines. I also highly enjoy creating butterflies or Navajo landscape scenes that sometimes include rainbows or clouds. Sometimes I add Navajo Maidens. I really love being an artist and jeweler and am very grateful to be. I hope to be able to make jewelry and artwork for as long as I can and for as long as the good Lord allows me to.”
Rebecca also states, “As an artist, I take great delight in creating my pieces in the tufa stone. I am very much inspired by God’s creation of nature, mankind, organic shapes, lines, textures and scenery and do my best to portray beauty and exude joy in every piece. My faith and belief in God the Father has always been a part of me as well and to Him, the ultimate and amazing Creator, I give praise and glory to, for all He has blessed me with for without Him I would be nothing. One of my favorite Bible verses and quotes from Jesus, that a lot of my floral and vine imagery are based upon, is from John 15:5, 'I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.'”