Johns Hopkins Magazine
N O V E M B E R 1 9 9 8 I S S U E
Barbe Awalt (MA'76) and her husband, Paul Rhetts, began
collecting santos, paintings and carvings that depict
holy scenes, shortly after they moved to New Mexico in the late
1980s (See "Santos: The Art of
Devotion,"). In the years since then their collection has
grown to include 450 pieces (their oldest dates to 1770), and
they've become good friends with many of the contemporary
artists, or santeros, who are carrying on the 400-year-old
tradition of devotional art. |
"It's a classic case of an art form taking over your life," says Awalt, who with her husband has written six books on the subject and has launched a quarterly magazine on the art and culture of Hispanic New Mexico, Tradición Revista.
Earlier this year, they turned their collection into a traveling exhibit, which is being featured at sites throughout the Southwest. "It's really hit a chord with people that we never would have predicted," Awalt says. "It's not something they take lightly."
In the exhibit, the couple includes two altars where viewers can stop to kneel and pray--in keeping with the very personal devotional role santos have played in the four centuries since the Spanish introduced Catholicism to the Southwest. "For the people of New Mexico, the saints were a part of the family," explains Awalt. Likewise, [santos] themselves were "not considered artwork, but a member of the family." --SD
Note: Photos appearing in "Santos: The Art of Devotion," were taken by Awalt and Rhetts, with the exception of "Cristo" by Robert Reck, "Nacimiento" by Ron Behrmann, and the "bulto, also by Behrmann. All three of these shots appeared in Charlie Carrillo: Tradition and Soul.
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