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Creating New Futures from the Past: Nanibaa Beck and Jared Tso

Nanibaa Beck necklace, 2017.

IARC Speaker Series, Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, School for Advanced Research, 660 Garcia Street, Santa Fe
Wednesday, April 3, 6:00-7:30pm, Admission is free.

Moderator: David Martinez, professor, Arizona State University
Panelists: Nanibaa Beck, artist; Jared Tso, artist

Nanibaa Beck credits her parents as the foundation for an exquisite technique and aesthetic that seamlessly and intentionally combines historic Navajo metalsmithing with a twenty-first century flair.  Emerging artist, electrical engineer, and MFA candidate Jared Tso seeks to explore and compliment the teachings surrounding Navajo pottery through his unique style and artistic path.  Professor David Martinez of Arizona State University guides the conversation as they discuss tradition, innovation, and the in between.

Nanibaa Beck is a 2nd generation Diné (Navajo) jeweler. At 13, she was an assistant to her father, Victor Beck, Sr., who taught her fundamental jewelry techniques and skills. During her academic years, she studied anthropology and museum studies. Her background includes work and fellowships with renown museums and organizations, like the Heard Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Arizona Humanities Council. Through it all, her focus remains connected to the vibrant Native creative community. 

In November 2013, Nanibaa founded NotAbove. Her a-ha moment to pursue jewelry occurred after a small thank you card project sparked the idea for the original language necklaces. The hand-sawn minimal jewelry collection’s focus on native indigenous languages fulfilled a unique niche in the native art market. And, today, NotAbove/ Nanibaa Beck Designs is a reflection of Native creative expressions and the growth of an Diné ‘Asdzaa (Navajo woman) as a designer. 

She continues to grow in her work today. This year she received the 2018 First People Fund Artist In Business Leadership Fellowship and the School of American Research’s Ronald & Susan Dubin Native Artist Fellowship and Artist in Residency.


Nanibaa Beck
Jared Tso

Jared Tso  is a fourth generation Dine potter. Jared comes from a family of potters that include the renowned Faye and Emmett Tso. His pursuit of an undergraduate degree at the University of New Mexico in Electrical Engineering brought him to Albuquerque where he currently resides. During his time here, he has worked heavily with the distinguished Ohkay Owingeh potter Clarence Cruz.  This unique time of balancing a technical degree and the tactile practice of clay, Jared developed profound appreciation for balance and versatility.

 Since graduating, he has continued this duality while working as an electrical engineer for Mesa Photonics, LLC in Santa Fe, NM while simultaneously pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Ceramics at the University of New Mexico. He shows his pottery at Santa Fe Indian Market each August. Jared’s work focuses on the traditional uses for these vessels and would like to teach after completing his MFA.


David Martinez (Akimel O’odham, Hia Ced O’odham, Mexican) is an associate professor of American Indian Studies at Arizona State University. He is also the author of ‘Dakota Philosopher: Charles Eastman and American Indian Thought’ (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2009); editor of ‘The American Indian Intellectual Tradition: An Anthology of Writings from 1772 to 1972’ (Cornell University Press, 2011); and, author of the forthcoming ‘Life of the Indigenous Mind: Vine Deloria Jr and the Birth of the Red Power Movement’ (University of Nebraska Press, 2019). In addition, he has published articles on Dan Namingha, George Morrison, Jim Denomie, and Doug Miles. Currently, he is working on a project on Akimel O’odham environmental philosophy, titled ‘When Elder Brother Sank Into the Earth: What the Story of the Huhugam Teaches About the Kinship Between Land, Spirit, and People’.

Dr. David Martinez

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