Mary Tafoya is from the Santa Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico. Although she comes from a traditional Pueblo using an ancient “heishi” artform, Mary has gifted the jewelry world with her contemporary visions. Mary is one of eleven children born to talented jewelry artists, Frank and Anita Coriz. As a young girl, Mary helped her family string what is called “Depression era” Santa Domingo pieces. Lacking the natural materials to craft jewelry, the people would scour the local dumps looking for bits and pieces of battery cases, dishes, toothbrushes, phonograph records, and fashion them into traditional looking pieces. From this grew Mary’s contemporary style.
Mary only works her craft if she feels happy. Each of her pieces is like a snowflake--one of a kind. She begins by sitting at her desk in her cheerful studio she shares with silversmith husband, Lorenzo. Lovingly beginning with a shell and a prayer, Mary creates her mosaic jewelry using vibrant contrasting colors of her natural materials. Her cozy studio contains buckets and piles of shell and stone waiting to be reborn. They have many visitors and are always happy to give a tour. Mary’s award winning and highly desired work is featured in many galleries and museums throughout the U.S.
“My pieces have fooled many of my customers and even seasoned art collectors into asking, ‘How did you paint these designs?’. When told that these are the natural colors of my materials and how they are intricately inlaid, they are amazed by the detail of my work. The patience required by my parents when I helped them with the family jewelry production has helped me with numerous design ideas.” Often when Mary has her work at an event, buyers will stop at her booth expressing that her jewelry is “talking” to them.
Mary and Lorenzo built their house within the Pueblo land holding. Each family member contributed to the rustic beauty of their home. Their house is filled with beautiful pottery and artwork that Mary has traded for her own art. The love and respect for their family, ancestors, culture, and especially each other is palpable. Passing her trade onto her children, we will be blessed with this talented lineage for years to come.