Luis Tapia




I am a native New Mexican Chicano sculptor who utilizes painted woodcarving to express social, political and religious realities of modern life. My work is rooted in a 400-year-old legacy of Catholic devotional art in New Mexico, one of the oldest Hispano communities in the U.S. The 1960s Chicano movement led me to investigate the arts of my ancestors, and early on, I carved traditional santos (saints), adhering to tightly prescribed subjects, materials and iconography. But as pressures to create within restrictive parameters grew oppressive, I questioned the concept of tradition, reimagining santero art to express that tradition is alive and evolving. Because the saints were entwined in the social and political circumstances of their time, I engage contemporary social issues in my work, taking a narrative approach to cultural commentary. Addressing such issues as immigration, crime, addiction, pedophilia and injustice grounds me in truth and dedication to social commentary.

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