Mary Tafoya, Santo Domingo, with her husband Lorenzo
Artist’s statement: “Growing up in a traditional family in Santo Domingo Pueblo, the last thing on my mind was that my art would allow me to travel to a great part of the United States, much less have my jewelry designs in demand at galleries and art shows!
I have employed skills acquired helping my parents stringing, designing traditional Santo Domingo jewelry. Remember the old style Thunderbird necklaces inlaid on battery casings or records, being sold along highways or on the plaza in Santa Fe? Those are the inspiration for my art.
My jewelry has evolved from traditional Santo Domingo turquoise “heishi” and Depression Era” work to a modern, contemporary, mosaic, multi-colored inlay jewelry, that is versatile for formal and casual wear. Using natural stones, shells, and turquoise, my designs are free-form inlay where no two pieces of inlay are alike, as each stone or shell is cut to fit a design right out of my memory. I try to find different types and colors of stones, unusual shapes of shell, cutting them at different angles to get the desired look. Lately, I had used silver filings to create a “glitter” effect to many pieces Sometimes I do not know what each piece will look like until is finished.
My pieces have fooled many of my customers and even seasoned art collectors into asking “How did you paint these designs?” When told that these are the natural colors of my material and how they are intricately inlaid, they are amazed by the detail in my work. The patience required by my parents when I helped with the family jewelry production has helped me with numerous design ideas.
I currently live on the Santo Domingo Pueblo with my husband, Lorenzo (also a jeweler/metalsmith) and four children. Our studio/workshop is behind the house and we have had many of our customers tour the facility to see the materials, tools, and equipment we use in our work. We love showing people in our studio, as it gives them the perspective of the work and a deeper appreciation of it.”
Mary Tafoya, Santo Domingo Pueblo
We at Home & Away Gallery consider ourselves to be extremely fortunate to have come across Mary Tafoya’s inlay necklaces, earrings, and pins. While we admire many Santo Domingo artists, Tafoya’s sense of color and design are very painterly, and are distinct from all other Santo Domingo work we have seen. We are honored to carry her work.