February 23, 2020 Taos, New Mexico

The Harwood Museum of Art

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MEET THE ARTISTS:  LAS SANTERAS: IMAGES OF FAITH AND FOLKLORE, FEMALE DEVOTIONAL ARTISTS OF NEW MEXICO COLORADO
Friday, April 3, 2020 - 4:00 to 6:00 pm

MEET THE ARTISTS: LAS SANTERAS: IMAGES OF FAITH AND FOLKLORE, FEMALE DEVOTIONAL ARTISTS OF NEW MEXICO COLORADO



New Mexico possesses a unique history of devotional art creation within the United States. Beginning with the early Spanish settlers, the production of Saints was a necessity to practice held religious beliefs. Workshops soon rose up to fulfill the needs of new Churches and personal Chapels. The individuals that created these pieces did not consider themselves artists. They produced the work because there was a demand for paintings and statues of Saints that were difficult to acquire in Colonial times. The introduction of the railroad eventually changed the dynamics of the production of devotional work. Saints were made for sale to the general population, including tourists. In 1920-1930, the creators of Saints became known as “Santeros”. ” Santeros” is a word used by scholars and artists alike to identify someone from New Mexico and Colorado that makes devotional art.


Although there is very little proof that women took part in the early creation of Saints, that changed in the early 1900s. Female carvers from Cordova, New Mexico that followed in the tradition of their elder family members began to emerge. These artists and others like them became known as “Santeras”, the female counterpart to the Santeros. The practice of making Saints is often passed down from family member to family member. This tradition has helped to introduce the artform, and the cultural meanings that eventually resonated with many women. Today, these Santeras are painters as well as carvers that have become highly influential and continue to pass down their artform to further generations.


In this exhibition, the individual Santeras of New Mexico and Colorado are represented along with their works of art in an emphasis on the unique carving talents that equal their male counterparts. A timeline of history and movement among these artists will explain the history, differences in styles and contemporary expressions. Many of these Santeras carve and paint, as well as being involved in other types of cultural arts of New Mexico. Several originate from generations of artists, while others have gained their own fame and high status through their perseverance and hard work. The Santeras in this exhibition have received respected accolades for their art and have influenced many individuals in the cultural arts. The devotional arts of New Mexico have been elevated to a status of international respect and recognition, in no small part, due to the work of these talented artists.