I was born on July 7, 1960 into the Ta’chii’cii clan (Red Running into Water) for the Ta’baa hi clan (Besides the Water) and I’m the third eldest of nine. I was raised on my family’s ancestral homeland in Crystal, New Mexico. In 1872 our family moved to Fort Defiance, Arizona.
The first five years of my primary education started at Crystal Boarding School and three years later ended at Chukka Boarding School in Tohatchi, New Mexico. In 1979 I graduated from Window Rock High School in Fort Defiance, Arizona. I then signed up for the military for four years and I was Honorable Discharged from the Marine Corp in 1983. After my discharge, I challenged myself to a higher education. My post secondary education at the University of Colorado at Denver fell short due to finances and other reasons.
With no firm occupation and due to financial hardships, I made an appeal to my aunt, Linda Peshlakai to ask her husband to teach me the art of silversmithing. In the summer of 1991, Norbert Peshlakai took me as his student. In a month’s time my dear friend and mentor taught me the basic techniques of silversmithing. In 1994, my mentor called me an artist after winning my first ribbon, a second place for a bracelet. A couple years later Mr. Peshlakai gave me my artisan name, “Elephant Man,”
In regards to my profession, the world of art has no boundaries. Our lives are not linear; we are influenced by what revolves around us. In between, there is balance, the key for harmony. Thus with a harp of balance and beauty, and based on these reasons my work has status and reflects spontaneity towards life.
In my designs, I employ without discrimination. Thus, I believe according to our creator, everything has a purpose. Based on my beliefs I enjoy giving forth a variety of techniques from stamp work, fusing, overlay, inlay, reticulation, granulation, texturing, forging, stretching, sinking and etc. My employment with a variety of these techniques on an individual piece brings out its own uniqueness.
Though very competitive, my artistic development and growth has not been without influence. The community of talented artisans has been very supportive and encouraging, to them I am forever grateful. In April 2006 I apprenticed under my clan brother, award winning jewelry tufa caster Darrel Dean Begay. In March 2007, for whose talent I have always admired the most asked me to collaborate. Jody Naranjo and I finally collaborated on two of her exquisite vessels in mid November 2007. In the years of my creativity , I have met the most beautiful and talented people.
Art has no boundaries, and with a grace of balance and beauty, I’m free to achieve my dreams and ambition on metal, and precious stones.