Art and Devotion
El Chante hosts a community art show highlighting culture and faith
Two retablos hang side by side. Both depicting a peaceful, gazing Virgin Mary. Both were fashioned by Albuquerque natives. However, upon study, the two are quite distinct.
One uses smooth geometric lines to paint an elaborate embroidered dress. In this painting, the Mother of Christ wears a crown, bright blue eyes, lipstick and a smile. She is surrounded my flowy curtains and candles, and the woodwork creates a double frame around her.
In the other, Mary is a bit more solemn. A sword pierces her heart. Her traditional blue shawl is draped around her head and there is sadness in her large brown eyes. Still, splendor surrounds her, even bursting from the top and bottom of the wooden frame.
It should come as no surprise that the two pieces are so different, as they came from two very different sets of hands. One is a retablo by Marie Luna. Raised in Barelas, Luna began receiving awards for her artwork in 1977 while still in high school. The other is the work of Salvador Carriaga Lambert, an Albuquerque teen who has already been recognized numerous times for his cultural pieces and his woodwork; Carriaga Lambert also comes from a family of santeros.
Both works can be enjoyed at The Art of Devotion opening at El Chante: Casa de Cultura this weekend. At the show local santeros and santeras—artists who create culturally-inspired devotional art—will display a collection of their traditional and contemporary tinwork, traditional encrusted art and straw appliqué. Especially highlighted will be the retablos—painted wood pieces such as the ones described above—and bultos—traditional woodcarvings—which have been part of New Mexican culture for generations.
The eleven devotional artists, ranging in age from 14 to 60, will come together to pay homage to tradition and faith, as well to inspire other New Mexicans. El Chante describes the event as a “Noche de Cultura,” an event for and by the community.
“By sharing our cultural and artistic traditions we are able to maintain a sense of dignity and respect for our history and share the experience with the community,” said Old Town santero, Adán Carriaga.
The Art of Devotion is a Saturday night filled with culture, tradition and faith. It is accompanied by another opening the same night at El Chante, Visiónes y Recuerdos: Exhibit 1, featuring work by Christopher Z. López. Both exhibits are free and all ages. For more information, visit El Chante: Casa de Cultura’s Facebook page.