The Museum of International Folk Art wishes to acknowledge the following individuals for their generous contributions to this exhibit: the Ramón José López family, Mrs. Helen Beck, Mrs. Virginia Fryer, Betty and Fulton Murray, and Mr. and Mrs. James Taylor. We would also like to thank the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, Inc., the International Folk Art Foundation, the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, HRH Don Felipe, Prince of Asturias, and the Spain ’92 Foundation. All photographs © Lynn Lown. Curator: Robin Farwell Gavin.
I want to make something that touches people--from three dimensions worked by my hands, to create that fourth dimension of the spirit from which the power of the piece emerges.
Ramón José López is a santero, a maker of images of saints. The term is important, for it reveals the underlying thread--the intense spirituality-- that is at the source of all his art. But it falls short in defining the breadth of his skill. For he is also a jeweler, a builder, a furniture maker, a metal smith, and a tailor. In fact, there are few art forms of which he is not a master.
Even as a child, López wanted to be an artist. He learned carpentry and welding and dreamed of becoming a sculptor. In 1975 he began working with gold and silver alongside his wife, Nance, a jeweler. Intrigued with the work of the colonial artists in New Mexico, López soon began to study the forms and techniques of colonial silver. At age 29 he first exhibited in Santa Fe Spanish Market, and that same year he won both first and second prizes for his silver work.
Since then, López's interest in Spanish colonial design has led him to experiment in a variety of media. Emphasizing method as much as form, he believes that to capture the spirituality and individuality of the colonial artists one has to take the time to learn and understand the techniques that were used 200 years ago.
My goal is to reach the level of quality Aragón and the other [colonial] santero masters achieved. In the course of this pursuit, I have found that there is no substitute for time--for the labor that goes into preparing materials the traditional way, for the hand crafting that gives the pieces their power.
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