Silversmith and award-winning jewelry designer Jacqueline Gala began her career first as a painter, then a photographer. From a young age, she loved to draw and that talent served her in sketching images for science class in high school. While attending high school and college art classes at Santa Fe’s Institute for American Indian Arts (IAIA) in the 1970s, Jacquie started painting. While searching for the right medium to express herself artistically, she turned to photography. She worked in one of her classes at the IAIA as a finish photographer specializing in horse-racing photos for the Santa Fe Downs racetrack. Still wishing to find a media that suited her, Jacquie arrived at silversmithing.
Jacquie’s father Carmen Gala was in the military, so Jacquie only spent summers at Taos Pueblo surrounded by the family of her mother, Antonita Lujan Gala. The family enjoyed sitting on the grass inside the adobe wall enclosure at Taos Plaza or at Kit Carson Park while people-watching. Jacquie remembers seeing Taos Pueblo men wearing their traditional blankets, long braids reaching to their waists. Jacquie particularly loved riding with her Uncle Jerry when he drove cattle to the auction in Alamosa, Colorado. She remembers how she, her sister Renee and her brother Glenn begged him to sing traditional Indian songs—and he did, all the way there and back. From him they learned the corn dance, social powwow and round dance songs as well as others unique to Taos Pueblo. These songs and traditional dances helped teach Jacquie Taos Pueblo ways and her place within the community.
In 1982 at age 20 Jacquie moved permanently to Taos Pueblo to raise her two children. Today she lives on the land where her relatives once raised corn, beans, squash and other vegetables that fed the family. Her children Nigel and Nastassja, now grown, inspire her work as does her boyfriend David Vedoe. Jacquie credits David with opening the doors to her creativity and teaching her how to express herself more openly. His European background in architecture and his architectural drawings and paintings provide Jacquie with forms and shapes that she incorporates into her trademark sculptural jewelry.
Some of Jacquie’s designs come to her at night. She’s learned to keep a sketchbook by her bed, and is often up by 4 a.m. to sketch the newest form that she’ll turn into her latest jewelry creation. She is constantly experimenting and pushing the boundaries of silverwork by adding semi-precious stones, pearls and gold accents. Jacquie derives great satisfaction from seeing her work exhibited in galleries, museums and exhibitions. She delights in knowing that collectors from all over the world own her work.