Jesse Monongya, who was raised by his Navajo grandmother in a hogan (traditional Navajo lodge), on the Two Gray Hills reservation in New Mexico, spent many hours as a child looking at the stars and the night sky. His grandmother knew the seasons by the position of the Big Dipper and told stories about the constellations. Her teachings are reflected in his jewelry today. In 1974, Monongya began to work with his father, Preston Monongye (1927-1987), a renowned jeweler. Jesse began to focus fully on a career in jewelry after having a dream in which his mother (whom he never knew) appeared, presented him with tools, and told him he would become a world-renowned artist. He is known for the night-sky designs he places within a bear shape and other forms. Monongya has received many awards including Best of Show in 1986 at O’odham Tash in Casa Grande, Arizona; Best of Show in 1993 at the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial in Gallup, New Mexico; and Best of Division in 1992, 1993, and 1994, as well as Best of Jewelry in 1995 at the renowned Santa Fe Indian Market.
Photo of Jesse: Togashi Studios