Pueblo: Acoma Pueblo and Kewa Pueblo
Althea Cajero designs and makes elegant jewelry which can be worn as every day pieces as well as for special occasions. In 2013, Althea Cajero and her husband Joe Cajero were named Living Treasures by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, a great honor for any artist, but especially poignant for a husband and wife.
Althea’s heritage is from two pueblos. Her mother, Dorothy Tortalita, was a full-time silversmith, and her father, Tony Tortalita, was a lapidary jeweler, and is now a tribal leader of Santo Domingo Pueblo. Her parents made their living creating art and selling their work under the Governor’s Palace in Santa Fe and at art shows. Her appreciation for art came from growing up and being around it. She knew that one day art would be a part of her life, not really knowing whether it would be through collecting, selling, or creating it.
Althea grew up in Kewa Santo Domingo Pueblo and attended high school in Santa Fe, NM. After graduating from St. Catherine’s High School she attended the University of New Mexico and was hired by the Indian Health Service and worked for them for almost 20 years.
In 2005, Althea and Joe Cajero, Jr., bronze and clay sculptor from Jemez Pueblo, were married. It was in being in his creative space that inspired her to think about her own creative capabilities.
From the fall of 2004 to the spring of 2006, she attended a jewelry class at the Poeh Arts Cultural Center in Pojoaque Pueblo, New Mexico. Fritz Casuse, her instructor and prominent Navajo jeweler, taught her to hand-fabricate and cast using silver and gold.
With the support of her husband, she resigned from the Indian Health Service and became a full-time artist. Fascinated by the beautiful texture of cuttlefish bone castings, she now creates a majority of her jewelry designs integrating the cuttlefish bone castings with hand fabrication. She uses sterling silver, 14K gold, 18K gold, with which she integrates natural materials, including turquoise, coral, pearls, jaspers, and agates. She continues to refine her skills by attending continuing education courses and workshops, working with mentors, experimenting and following her intuition. She expresses her gratitude every day for an incredibly blessed life.
Althea is juried into several notable art shows which include the annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market in March and the annual Santa Fe Indian Market in August. She is also represented by several respected galleries.