Jesse Monongya a Navajo / Hopi Indian Jeweler.
His jewelry is highly regarded as the finest inlay work accomplished today.
He currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, a center for American Indian art, and also close to the Hopi and Navajo Reservations.
Monongya's work has ranged from the use of silver and simply cut turquoise and coral to the highly technical and intricate designs of the galaxies and heavens in lapis, jade, malachite, and diamonds set in gold. While his work had evolved over the years, the superb color combination and balance of design are consistently present.
Raised in New Mexico in the famous Navajo rug center of Two Gray Hills, Jesse learned early the perfection of the craft from watching the weavers and their pursuit of balance and technical perfection. The beautiful songs the women would sing as they wove and the soothing sound of the loom would stay with him as he began his work at the jeweler's bench years later. The stars the elders talked about looking up in that beautiful black sky of the Southwest would eventually be used in stunning array in the classic bracelets and pendants he is so well known for throughout the world.
Along with producing his own work, he has been actively involved in several facets of art. He assisted in the placing of historic and contemporary Native American jewelry in the permanent display at the Heard Museum. He also was the Artist in Residence at the Heard Museum during 1986-87, teaching and demonstrating the centuries old art of Navajo jewelry making.
Monongya's jewelry has been featured in a number of group and private exhibitions and is represented in both corporate and private collections, including collections of many other artists. He has won many awards at the major American Indian art shows throughout the Southwest.
Some of the major influences upon his work have been in varying degrees, Preston, his father, who he did not know until he was a grown man; his Hopi and Navajo background; (his grandfather being the much respected Hopi Elder David Monongya); his Navajo grandfather who taught him the respect of his environment and the old Navajo ways of discipline and the Beauty Way.
The Bear has been a symbol to Jesse as the Strength and Power of his "Dine" culture. The intricately inlaid bear takes so much concentration that he must take time in between to recover. He tells of the story when he was a very young boy with his grandfather and they came across a bear out in the mountains. His grandfather spoke to the bear in Navajo, acknowledging his strength and power, asking for blessing and to pass safely. The bear retreated from his standing position and walked away into the woods. It was a very strong experience for Jesse.
Through Jesse's skilled hands we can also share in these cultural and spiritual experiences.