Wooden Saints: The Santos of New Mexico
In the Spanish-speaking world, the word santo normally means "saint" or "holy." By extension, it may also refer to material representations of the saints. In the United States this usage commonly refers specifically to a body of painting and sculpture produced between the middle of the 18th century and the beginning of the 20th by Americans of Spanish descent living in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. This remarkable folk art came into being when the area was a remote outpost of Spain, and colonists were faced with a chronic shortage of essential imports over the long caravan route from Mexico. It persisted well into the American territorial period, succumbing finally to mass-produced substitutes. It has been called the most important manifestation of folk art in this country, and is in fact the only non-Indian religious art native to it. Santos have been appreciated and collected by Anglo-Americans for half a century; but information available to the general public is scanty and often misleading. The aim of this guide is to present a brief historical sketch of the cultural background, followed by some discussion of the art itself.--From p. 3-4.
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