Award-winning Navajo designer Veronica Benally approaches each of her jewelry designs with a motherly perspective that is deeply rooted in her respect for her own family and culture. Her designs combine Native jewelry traditions with the whimsical spirit of nature. Veronica's awards include a 2nd place finish at the Gallup Intertribal Indian Ceremonial (2008), both 1st and 2nd place awards from the 2008 Navajo Nation Fair, and a 2nd place finish in the Traditional Jewelry Category at Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival (2008). Her designs gleefully experiment with color combinations and materials that others often put aside, creating a unique, contemporary style of Native American jewelry that she considers a reflection of her place in life.
Veronica first learned the art of jewelry making from her husband, Ernest. Dedicated to her family, it was an opportunity to provide for her children in a way that still allowed her to remain close to them at home. Working alongside her husband for several years, Veronica developed her own distinctive style and approach to jewelry design that melds tradition, culture, color and nature. She describes her design process as similar to having a child: each individual piece contains a seed of her in it, it takes on life as the design moves from paper to metal and stones, and once the piece is polished and ready to be seen it brings her a sense of satisfaction that only a mother can truly understand.
Veronica's respect for her heritage is something that only she can truly describe: "I am Kinyaa'aanii - the towering house clan from my mother. I'm born into the Ta'neeszhanii- the tangle people clan from my father. My maternal grandparents are To' baazhni'azhi- the two who came from the water clan, my paternal grandparents are Ashiihii- the salt people. This is my identity as a Native American but more importantly as a Navajo."
Veronica lives at the heart of Native American land in the American Southwest, just outside of Gallup in Gamerco, NM. Making her home with her husband of 11 years and her three children, Veronica has worked to instill a respect of nature and family in her children. She and Ernest often take their family to a ranch south of Gallup, to teach them farming and ranching, giving them the skills to handle any situation that life hands them.
If you ask how the world she lives in influences her jewelry, she will tell you that she sees the same transformations in her jewelry that she witnesses in her daily life. Each person has their own problems and individual lives, but together in a home or community they become something beautiful. She sees this same transformation when raw stones with their individual streaks of color and rough edges are cut, polished and made into jewelry. As a whole, they become an object of beauty.