Althea Cajero is from the Pueblos of Santo Domingo and Acoma, in New Mexico. 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 apart of her life, not really knowing whether it would be through collecting, selling, or creating it.
Althea grew up in 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. The material she uses is silver and gold, and integrates unique natural stones, such as turquoise, jaspers, and agates, as well as, corals, natural shells and pearls. She continues to refine her skills by attending continued education courses and workshops, mentors, experimenting and following her intuition. She expresses her gratitude everyday 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.
Heard Museum Shop
Home and Away Gallery
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center -Shumak’olo:wa Gifts
Wrights Collection of Indian Art
Santa Fe Indian Market 2015, 2nd Place, Calibrations Division – with JoeCajero
Santa Fe Indian Market, Second Place
Ft. McDowell Indian Market, First Place