The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
Written by Laurie Beth Kalb, this essay profiles New Mexican artist Luis Tapia, known primarily as a santero [religious statue carver] as well as furniture maker and preserver. The essay details Tapia’s childhood in Agua Fria, a predominantly Hispanic community near Santa Fe, New Mexico, then discusses in length the development of his artistic practice, its ideological motivations, and his commitment to preserving traditional New Mexican forms and styles while pursuing his own individual aesthetic. The document situates Tapia within the framework of the Chicano movement, which the artist identifies as central to the development of his awareness of the role of politics in the manipulation and invention of cultural identity. Additionally, the text underscores Tapia’s fraught relationship with the mainstream art milieu and the degree to which this has impacted his artistic practice and ideas about tradition, appropriation, preservation, and authenticity.
This comprehensive essay was included in the exhibition catalog Crafting Devotions: Tradition in Contemporary New Mexico Santos held at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles in 1994, which focused on the contemporary artistic manifestations of northern New Mexico’s santeros. In her description of Tapia’s life and art career, Kalb positions him, unlike other Hispano [Northern New Mexican] artists, as heavily influenced by the Chicano movement. She also makes a pivotal connection between the artist collective, La Cofradía de Arte y Artesanos Hispánicos [The Art and Artisan Hispanic Guild] (of which Tapia was a founding member), and the artistic and political tenets of the Chicano movement.