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Navajo Metalsmith Nanibaa Beck


Five years ago, while she was a graduate student in anthropology at New Mexico Highlands University, Nanibaa Beck had an idea.  As a girl, she had trained with her father, a noted Diné metalsmith, and now she conceived of simple silver necklaces inscribed with words from Native languages.  She's had her own line of jewelry every since.  This month in Santa Fe, Nanibaa Beck is an artist fellow at the Indian Arts Research Center, part of the School for Advanced Research, and she'll be featured in the 2018 Indian Market.

Nanibaa is frustrated with the distinction between traditional and contemporary Native jewelry.  "I have never liked the idea that when you think about 'traditional' Navajo jewelry it's always within the confines of late 19th Century to mid-1950s.  The way I want to think about 'traditional' is continuous, vibrant, alive.  It's also very me, very today."

Spencer Beckwith reports on the arts for KUNM. For ten years, until March of 2014, Spencer was the producer and host of KUNM's "Performance New Mexico," a weekday morning arts program that included interviews with musicians, writers and performers. Spencer is a graduate of the acting program at the Juilliard School, and, before moving to New Mexico in 2002, was for many years a professional actor based in New York City.