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Los Alamos Historical Society presents:Charlie Carrillo's 'Saints of the Pueblos'

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By Kirsten Laskey

Dr. Charlie Carrillo, scholar, teacher, lecturer and artist, has a piece of history he would like to share.The Los Alamos Historical Society is providing an opportunity to experience what Carrillo has to offer during its historical lecture at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fuller Lodge.For the past 28 years, Carrillo has studied and created depictions of the saints of the Pueblos. He has carved their images out of wood and painted flat images called retablos. Carrillo preserves the traditional creations of santos, or saints, but also adds something new. He includes traditional Native American pottery designs along the borders of the retablos.“It’s the first time, that I’m aware of, that the two traditions of the Santo traditions and the pottery traditions have been combined,” Carrillo said.Throughout the years, the community has always been invited to see his work. For instance, Carrillo has sold his art at the Spanish Market for 28 years; he works with the Artists-in-Residence program for the New Mexico, and goes to schools throughout the state giving workshops. Four years ago, Carrillo gave a presentation, titled “The Saints of the Pueblos,” at the Pueblo Culture Center in Albuquerque. The lecture was such a success, he was asked to do it again. Additionally, Carrillo published a book, titled “The Saints of the Pueblos.”Carrillo will share this presentation with Los Alamos Tuesday. He will discuss a little about the history of the each of the pueblos, its saints and pottery. A press release by the Los Alamos Historical Society states Carrillo will explore connections between Hispanic and Pueblo cultures. He will delve into the Hispanic devotional images of saints and pueblo pottery traditions.Carrillo’s work has received numerous awards. In 2006, he earned a Lifetime Achievement Award for the Spanish Market and a National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.“I’ve done this for a long time,” Carrillo said. “It’s about the traditions and beliefs of people who have been here hundreds of years.”He became interested in this piece of history while doing archaeology work in Abiqui in 1977. The National Endowment for Arts reports that Carrillo decided to paint the saint, after seeing the ruins of Santa Rosa de lima de Abiqui.Additionally, the Endowment for the Arts notes that he received his Ph.D. in historic archaeology focusing on pottery at the University of New Mexico in 1980.He is not the only one to be interested the pueblo saints. Many Catholics, Carrillo said, “still cling to those things.”He added, “It’s about our heritage, our own heritage.”Carrillo said he is eager to make his presentation in Los Alamos.“(It’s about) sharing the history and the culture of the area ee It’s about storytelling,” he said.