Helen Tafoya is the daughter of David and Vangie Tafoya of Jemez Pueblo. Her great-grandmother was Maria Sanchez of San Ildefonso Pueblo. Maria was a cousin of Maria Martinez but she married Juan Pedro Colaque of Jemez Pueblo and moved to his home there. She played a part in an early attempt to revive the making of traditional pottery at Jemez.
Vangie was born into San Ildefonso Pueblo and grew up learning how to make pottery through watching and working with her grandmother. Then she married David Tafoya and moved to his home at Jemez. At Jemez, she learned the Jemez styles and designs and made them her own.
Helen grew up learning how to make pottery the same way, except she learned mostly from her mother. At Jemez, the making of traditional pottery is an open learning system. Vangie showed Helen the basics, then encouraged her to develop her own skills, styles and designs. Helen has since earned many awards and accolades, and her work has traveled all over the world.
Hummingbirds seem to have an affinity for Helen's work: it shows in her sgraffito designs. She often likes to inlay a piece of turquoise or other stone in the hummingbird's eye.
Helen also works with the Towa Creative Team making art materials for the Towa Language Immersion programs in the schools of Jemez Pueblo.