Retablos Santos My interest and research into Mexican retablos santos began many years ago. Growing up in south Texas I was surrounded by images of religious icons. I was intriqued with the mystery surrounding the lifes of the saints, with their apparent agony or rapture carefully captured in their faces.
Retablos or retablos santos are a form of popular art in Mexico with origins in the colonial period. They are oil paintings done on small sheets of tin and depict saints. These paintings were placed on a home altar and intended for private devotion. Venertion to the saints represents the heart and soul of traditional religious beliefs in colonial Mexico.
For me, retablo painting is a way to connect my work as an artist with my identity as a Mexican-American woman. I depict work with personal meaning in small intimate paintings and mixed media works. Sometimes I intentionally adopt the small and charming figurative distortions common to the work of the self-taught colonial retablos painters. I do this in order to insert my work into the tradition of retablo painting thus providing a historical context. I also add the name of the saint as well as the areas in which that saint might be most helpful. The inscriptions appear in English to highlight the blending of my Mexican and American cultures and my adaptation of retablo painting; making this tradition into something of my own time and place.
My research on retablos santos continues - I hope to discover the patron saint of artists, invoked upon during times of artistic block or creative exhaustion.