I developed this series with the help of my students during my forth year of teaching woodcarving at the University of New Mexico. I was looking into use a wood that were native to Taos and northern New Mexico and that could be easily obtained. With the help of a local wood mill in El Salto, I decided on using New Mexico Juniper. This wood has a deep reddish heart wood surrounded by a creamy sap wood all framed by a thick rugged bark, the perfect picture frame and canvas. There are a few different varieties of Juniper growing throughout the region and have been used by Spanish carvers for their religious carvings for centuries, dating back to the 1600’s. It is the New Mexico Juniper however that maintains its red heart wood over time whereas the others will eventually turn brown.
I had the original trees I picked out cut into 2 inch thick diagonal slabs. This provides an oblong carving area while maintaining strength of the slabs.
Now that I had my wood, I took a piece and asked the class what they saw in the wood. To my surprise the overwhelming answer turned out to be a Madonna and her child. So started my “Taos Spirit Carving” series. In the beginning I carved only relief's while my late friend and student Dave Chaves carved angles in the round.
Today this series has evolved to include three dimensional pieces as well.
When I get the time, I will be posting what I have available on this site.
This series of carvings depicts my version of the age old tradition of religious art that runs throughout New Mexico as well as in Mexico
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