Ruth Ann Begay
Ruth Ann Begay was born in Phoenix, Arizona, where she grew up speaking only Navajo. Her father brought the family to Albuquerque, NM and raised his children modernly instead of traditionally.
She learned how to be a silversmith by watching her mother and her sister. Ruth Ann began silversmithing professionally after high school and started with simple bezels, and soldering before eventually moving on to decorative work such as leaves. Now, Ruth Ann uses modern tools to make her jewelry. She taught herself how to finish silver jewelry. Ruth Ann says that when she signs her name to a piece, it is important that the quality of her work be something that she can be proud of.
She is now married and has one daughter, Desbah. When asked why she didn’t raise her daughter traditionally, she says, “Why send them back when they can go forward.” She has taught her daughter how to do silverwork but understands that Desbah’s interest lies in electrical work.
Ruth Ann and her husband now live in Prewitt, New Mexico. She says that New Mexico is her favorite place to be. Ruth Ann has worked with Silver Sun since Silver Sun bought Hills Indian Jewelry in 1976. She used to drive 140 miles per day just to get to work and back but then the price of gas went up. She now works from the comfort of her home. Ruth Ann thinks that teaching silversmithing could be interesting and that the value of being an artist lies in the ability to find jobs that allow her to be creative.