The Artist Ruth Ann Begay was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but her family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she grew up speaking only Navajo. Her father brought the family to Albuquerque and raise his children modernly instead of traditionally.
She learned how to silversmith by watching her mother and her sister. Ruth Ann began silversmithing professionally after high school and started with simple bezels, and soldering then moving on to decorative work such as leaves. She is now married and has one daughter, Desbah. When asked why she didn’t raise her daughter traditionally, she says, “Why send them back when they can go forward.” She has taught her daughter how to do silverwork but understands that Desbah’s interest lies in electric work.
Ruth Ann and her husband live in Prewitt, New Mexico. She says that New Mexico is her favorite place to be. Ruth Ann has worked with Silver Sun since Silver Sun bought Hills Indian Jewelry. She drove 70 miles one way to work until the price of gas went up. Ruth Ann uses modern tools to make her jewelry. She taught herself how to finish silver jewelry. Ruth Ann says that when she signs her name to a piece, it is important that the quality of her work be something that she can be proud of. Ruth Ann thinks that teaching silver smithing sounds interesting. She says that the value of being an artist is that she can find jobs that allow her to be creative.