An answer to stress: Jeweler, also an EMT, works through pandemic
As the coronavirus quarantined the entire world, frontline health-care workers such as Nick Nez were working endlessly around the clock to protect and help their communities.
At the height of the pandemic, Nez would come home through his garage, toss his clothes in the washer and head straight to the shower.
“If there was a chance I had covid, I didn’t want my family to get it,” said Nez. “The job is very vigorous. I just come home and go to sleep.
“The stress you deal with every day is high,” he said. “You really don’t get a thank you.”
Nez is an EMT, speaking of life during the pandemic.
Before becoming an EMT, serving both the Chinle district and now San Juan County, Nez was and still is an aspiring artist.
When Nez was in 4th grade, he was inspired by a fellow classmate who was a good drawer.
“He was always drawing and he had the best drawings every time,” he said, “so I just picked up a pencil one day and started drawing.”
Nez drew Marvel characters each day and one day started creating abstract designs that he turned into jewelry.
Nez draws out his designs before molding them into jewelry and each design has a part of him within the design.
“I don’t know what it is, it’s just being creative,” he said, “using your hands and your mind.”
Animals are a favorite subject.
“It creates something that has always been there, like nature and animals,” he said. “Animals are wonderful creatures. They have hearts, brains, everything an animal does is perfect.
His work in jewelry is an answer to stress.
“Not only is there stress from being a EMT, but the stress of having a family, supporting my kids, all the stresses of life,” he said. “It just makes me want to go home, relax, go to my shop and start making jewelry.
“Running EMS call after EMS call, it really burns you,” he said. “The stress and pain, that is what molds the piece, that is what helps molds my artwork.”
While at his EMT duties, Nez finds himself thinking about creating jewelry and he asks himself, “Why am I here. I could be at home creating jewelry.” Having been an EMT for over five years during the pandemic, Nez would like to make jewelry-making a full-time job.
“It’s what I want to do, I want to become a full-time artist,” he said. “Right now, my vision would be to get my kids involved and my wife to be a part of the process. Have my jewelry making become a family business.”
Moving forward, Nez wants to inspire youth to get involved with jewelry making.
“Many of the younger generations, I want to influence them, that it is possible to think outside of the reservation and to become a successful artist,” he said. “Not just in jewelry making, but as painters, sculptors, rug weavers, musicians – all of this. It does not have to be confined to one area.”
“I think being an artist brings out the real person inside of you,” he said. “The majority of people don’t see or can’t understand that side of you. But I can show you what is inside through my art.”