Nancy Youngblood (Yellow Aspen) was born in 1955 at Fort Lewis, Washington. Her mother Mela had met and married Walton Youngblood in Colorado Springs, while he was serving in the Army. So Nancy spent the early years of her life on various military bases until her father was sent to Vietnam in 1968. Her mother returned to Santa Clara Pueblo and the heart of the Tafoya family (Mela was one of Margaret's daughters). Surrounded by some of the best traditional potters on the planet, Nancy began learning the process. Her mother and grandmother taught her the basics but she was determined to make her pots her way. It was 1972 when she earned her first ribbon in a juried competition: it was the Gallup InterTribal Ceremonies and she took second place.
At that point Nancy's father said he would continue to support her only if she went to formal schools so she graduated from McCurdy High School in 1973. She'd earned a scholarship to the San Francisco Art Institute so she went there next. That didn't last long. She returned to Santa Clara to figure out what she really wanted to do. Santa Fe art dealer Al Packard looked at her work and encouraged her to go back to Santa Clara and be a potter. She moved in with her Aunt Berta (Shirley Tafoya) and they created miniatures together that they sold for $15 to $20 each. That was also the time when Nancy began to produce her signature S-swirl melon bowls with the deep carved ridges. She showed at Santa Fe Indian Market in 1974 and her mother decided at that point that Nancy's work was good enough to show with hers at a Texas gallery show. In 1975 she enrolled in some studio art classes at the University of New Mexico and it was at the end of that period she decided she needed to devote her full time to her artwork.
In 1976, Nancy had a major exhibition of her works at Gallery 10 in Scottsdale, AZ. The gallery owner there, Lee Cohen, became a good friend and mentor over time. He probably had the greatest business effect on Nancy's career. Over the next 19 years she exhibited regularly at Gallery 10 plus in galleries in Santa Fe, Beverly Hills and New York City until Lee died in 1995. Since then Nancy has marketed her work herself.
She got married in 1979, had a baby in 1989 and divorced in 1990. She remarried in 1993, had two more children and divorced again in 2002.
Up into the early 1980s, Nancy had been producing primarily miniatures but through the 80s, the scale of her pieces increased. She became a perfectionist carver and the value of her pieces increased rapidly. She's been earning awards regularly since that first show in 1972 and 2/3 of what she creates today is pottery commissioned by private collectors.