How Fernando Got His Start:
After graduating high school Fernando’s uncle Ernest Benally who is a well-respected jeweler asked him to help prepare his jewelry for a selling trip to Gallup and Zuni, NM. From this experience Fernando began his journey into the “Native American Jewelry Art World.” Soon after his family offered Fernando a 3 year jewelry apprenticeship and he began his training with skills such as buffing jewelry, cutting stones, stamping and soldering silver. Fernando’s aunt and uncle Chester Benally and Rita Benally-Ybarra who are well accomplished artisans also assisted to further develop his skills in inlay and silversmithing. Fernando’s talent had become more than apparent after finishing his apprenticeship and would later become a life path. Fernando respects his famillies love for the craft.
“I have been creating jewelry for over 20 years and I am forever grateful of the gifts my family has blessed me with. I will continue to carry on my family legacy and I will pass down these gifts to my three daughters. I look forward to seeing what lies ahead on their journey of creations in art and life. ”
My Artwork is inspired through my life experiences with my family on the Navajo reservation. Navajo Ceremony with my grandparents and working on our ranch gave me a great perspective on life and responsibilities. These experiences are also evident in my work through the symbols and the stones I use in my pieces. I carry on my family traditions with visions of harmony, protection and balance.
“A great feeling is working on the ranch from sunrise to sunset making fence posts and running barbed wire. The family got together for dinner to laugh, tell stories and reminisce on the day.”