Priests Influenced Southwest Native Art
The early Franciscan priests of the Southwest, particularly in New Mexico, had a tremendous influence on the arts and crafts that developed in that part of the country. In the missions they taught a variety of handicrafts - stone and wood carving, tin and silverwork, plaster making and painting.
All of the above techniques were originally used to produce what were known as santos, solid religious images for the glorification of God.
Two of the early priest-instructors were Father Garcia, who was serving the last part of the 18th century and Father Pereyro, who served in the first decades of the19th century. They made a few pieces themselves in the process of teaching, and occasional objects will bear their signatures.
Later santeros, those who produced religious likenesses, began carving small shrines for private homes. These bultos were small groupings of figures, and were usually made of cottonwood roots. After carving, they were covered with plaster and then painted. Sometimes a little fabric would be added.
Return to Index