In the late 1950s, when Ben Nighthorse's jewelry career began, Indian jewelry was defined by Southwest Indian jewelry styles and was created with the region's trademark materials, silver and turquoise. In the 1970s, the Madison Avenue fashion industry popularized Indian jewelry. Artists such as as Ben followed this new trend and focused their talents on jewelry making. The growing Indian jewelry market encouraged artists to experiment with innovative forms and styles and to exchange design ideas. Ben's early work shows the the range of techniques and designs explored by Indian jewelers during this pivotal era.
A portion of this exhibit is still on view in the Center's exhibition cases.