In the 35 years I’ve represented American Indian artists, I’ve looked at the work of many young, beginning artists, and none has captured my attention like the jewelry and paintings of Robert Begay. Navajo artist Robert Begay is a mere six years old, but his art is oh so much bigger! Son of jewelers Darryl and Rebecca Begay, (who took the prestigious “Best of Show” award at the 2009 Santa Fe Indian Market) Robert has undoubtedly received much of his parents’ talent.
Upon viewing Robert’s work for the first time, I was incredulous that a six-year-old could create the paintings and jewelry attributed to Robert Begay, but after sitting down with him, I was astonished at this little boy’s maturity and the seriousness with which he works. Initially shy, Robert quickly warmed up and felt comfortable talking with me. His mind wandered across a spectrum of ideas relating to his Navajo culture, an ever-present theme in his work. Note the Navajo-style moccasins on the man and woman in Robert Begay's painting entitled "Hungry Man and Friend" along with the classic Navajo squash blossom necklace. Robert Begay thinks a whole lot about the visual images he has encountered on the Navajo reservation during his short life, and he has a large amount of personal pride putting on canvas or tufa these vingenettes of Navajo life. While only six, Robert Begay is certainly a serious artist; he has that keen power of observation that’s present in only the best.
Robert Begay painting Stars and Turtles
Robert depicts Grandmother quite frequently in his paintings and on his jewelry. His paintings are watercolor on canvas while his jewelry is tufa-cast, meaning that he carves his images in tufa or soft volcanic rock forming a mold into which melted silver is poured, hardened and ultimately emerges as a piece of jewelry displaying Robert’s sculpted images. For six-year-old Robert Begay, art is very serious business, indeed.
In August of 2009, Robert Begay was a prizewinner, so he’s quite the inspired artist now. When he’s not painting or sculpting in tufa, Robert is a flute player. In fact, at Santa Fe Winter Indian Market, Robert hid under his parents’ draped table and played his flute quite beautifully while Darryl and Rebecca Begay talked about their jewelry. Creativity simply runs in Robert’s veins.
I am thrilled to watch Robert Begay’s continued artistic development. You can bet I’ll be a big promoter of this young American Indian artist. He’s certainly a young artist to follow and collect.
View Robert Begay's Work
Navajo boy Robert Begay is very serious about his art