I’m excited to be coming to you today with a long anticipated article in collaboration with one of my favorite jewelry designers of the moment – Adam Fierro.
I first connected with Adam through Facebook, which coincidentally, is his main market platform for his work. I immediately fell in love with the unique, avant-garde style of his pieces and the story of how each design concept came to be. He describes his style as contemporary southwestern – when it comes to the cutting edge, Adam has mastered the art.
“My work is off the wall. I love big and bold, and jaw dropping.”
I got the chance to talk with him, not only about his designs, but also his culture and his unique perspective of the turquoise industry in the heart of New Mexico. While they moved around the Land of Enchantment often growing up, Adam considers Albuquerque his home.
Albuquerque is a major southwestern hub for Native American culture, tradition and of course, jewelry – jewelry making was an heirloom passed on by the family business.
“My grandfather learned the art of jewelry making near the turn of the twentieth century, from a Navajo friend,” Adam told me. “He learned it to support himself, but that was it. He knew it, but wasn’t really in it.” Later on, his grandfather would pass on the skill of jewelry making to Adam’s father, who would define his own jewelry style with his skill set.
Adam began creating jewelry when he was very young – his first piece was made for his mom when he was just a kid, sneaking into the workshop when his parents weren’t looking. While he was surrounded by influence of Native American jewelry his whole life, it wasn’t until he was in high school that he started his journey into the business.
“I needed to pay my car insurance, so I cut stones and polished them for my father.”
Adam’s parents tried to discourage him from getting into the business, as it’s difficult to make a living as an artist, but he went for it anyway. Now, he’s a young visionary bringing his perspective to the jewelry traditions he grew up with.
Adam creates art by way of Native American traditions, but his ancestry doesn’t read that simply. In fact, when I asked which piece was his favorite, he told me a story about a cuff inspired by his melting pot of a family heritage.
“It represents my heritage and who I am.”
The piece starts with Mayan pyramids and mountains mingled with a horse and buggy carrying a woman, who Adam says is his grandma.
“It’s carrying her to the Santa Clara Pueblo around the mountains, the Apache, into the Rio Grande valley.”
Adam describes this piece as a coming together of his unique heritage – both his mom and dad’s sides coming together into one scene etched in silver and turquoise.
So what’s the secret to originality and making a stone transform into a piece of art? It’s simple – listen.
“The turquoise tells me what it wants to be. I do a lot of freeform – the stone basically dictates its own shape. I may want to make a bracelet, but it may end up being a pendant instead. I just flow with whatever the turquoise wants to be.”
Adam is a natural story teller, and it comes through in each piece he crafts. He draws inspiration from the things around him, but the big picture revolves around the stone he’s crafting.
“The inspiration for my work always goes back to the turquoise. I have a deep appreciation for the stone matrix and color combination – it paints a picture in each stone. I like to use big stones in my pieces because there’s more of the picture to see.”
While his work is unique, Adam explained to me the difficulty of being overlooked in a sea of saturated markets in New Mexico.
“There are so many artists here, and so many imports. Artists are no longer depending on stores to sell their merchandise – they’re turning to social media to make a living, and that’s what I’ve done. If it wasn’t for social media, I would probably be out of business.”
Adam has grown an online network through his Facebook platform where he showcases his designs.
“99% of my sales are outside of New Mexico. I sell around 1% of my jewelry in the state, and the rest is being shipped everywhere else. With social media, the artists are able to grab ahold of the market again.”
Speaking of selling outside of the box, Adam has international aspirations for his work. He told me about his dream of being big in places like Japan and Australia. He’d also love to see his work featured in publications such as Cowboys & Indians.
If you’re interested in following Adam’s work, check out his Facebook profile, “Adam Fierro Jewelry”.
Thanks again to Adam for taking the time to tell me his story and share his experience. I hope you guys enjoyed learning more about the his art.
Do you have an artist you’d like to see featured? Leave me a comment!