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MIAC Announces Robert Whitehair Begay as Recipient of Goodman Aspiring Artist Fellowship

October 28th, 2020

The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (MIAC) is pleased to announce that Robert Whitehair Begay (Navajo) has been awarded the 2020-2021 Goodman Aspiring Artist Fellowship. The 17-year-old artist from Gallup will use funds from the fellowship to purchase new tools and equipment, along with stones and silver.

Dr. Malcolm Goodman and his wife, Connie, established the Goodman Aspiring Artist Fellowship in 2016, with a mission to provide financial assistance to emerging artists who are showing promise at an early stage of their career. 

“We are so pleased that Robert was chosen for the fellowship. He is very talented, hard-working, and produces amazing artwork,” said Dr. Malcom Goodman and Connie Goodman. “We know he will be an inspiration to other young artists as they also pursue their goals. A big thanks goes to MIAC for appreciating the importance of this fellowship for young aspiring Native American artists. Without MIAC’s hard work and dedication, the fellowship would not be possible. It takes a whole team to make it work. Congratulations, Robert, we are proud of you!” 

Robert is a gifted individual who shows promise as a next-generation Navajo jewelry artist, and his earliest pieces featured an original cartoon character of his own creationWith his parents, Darryl and Rebecca Begay, being award-winning Navajo jewelry artists, Robert grew up in the Native art world surrounded by silversmithing, tufa casting, and stone inlay. Robert learned the basic techniques of working with silver from his father and drawing skills from his mother. 

MIAC is very pleased with the selection made by the Goodman Fellowship Committee,” said Della Warrior (Otoe-Missouria), director of MIAC. “Robert Begay is very talented and this fellowship will help him attain his goals. We appreciate the Goodmans for recognizing the need to support emerging artists and help contribute to the advancement of their careers. Through our partnership with the Goodmans, we look forward to assisting more young artists.”

In 2009, Robert began winning awards for his artOne early Saturday morning on the Santa Fe Plaza, Robert recalled needing a small flashlight to show his award-winning pieces to collectors. In August 2019, Robert received Best of Classification and Best of Youth Award at the 98th annual Santa Fe Indian Market for a bolo tie inspired by his great-grandfather Whitehair Begay. Earlier that same month, Robert received a first-place ribbon and Best in Class Youth for his “Cheii’s Land Mariano Lake” bracelet at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial. Robert was also recognized at the 2019 Ceremonial with a Judges Choice Honorable Mention.

“I am very grateful to be a recipient of the Goodman Fellowship,” said Robert. “It will help me enhance my artwork and achieve my goals in jewelry making. I thank the Goodmans and the MIAC staff.”

Currently a senior in high school, Robert also enjoys other extra-curricular actives and is a part of his school’s wrestling team. He is open to investigating educational opportunities for learning new techniques and widening his horizons upon graduation. The machines he has requested in his fellowship proposal will be beneficial as he further explores various techniques such as inlay and has already incorporated turquoise, coral, sugilite, black jade, and ironwood into some of his pieces.

Below is a list of previous recipients of the Goodman Aspiring Artist Fellowship:

2016-2017 Cree LaRance (Tewa/Hopi/Navajo/Assiniboine) Terran Last Gun (Piikani (Blackfeet))

2017-2018 Carly Fedderson (Confederated Tribes of Colville Reservations) Adrian Standing Elk Pinnecoose (Navajo/Southern Ute)

2018-2019 Kalem Aguilar (Santo Domingo) Valerie Calabaza (Santo Domingo)

2019-2020 Mikayla Patton (Oglala Sioux) David Naranjo (Santa Clara/San Juan/Cochiti)

2019-2020 Encouragement Award Duhon James (Navajo)

2020-2021 Robert Whitehair Begay (Navajo)


About the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture
The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Board of Regents for the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and our donors. The mission of the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology is to serve as a center of stewardship, knowledge, and understanding of the artistic, cultural, and intellectual achievements of the diverse peoples of the Native Southwest. 


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Robert Whitehair Begay Jewelry

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