Charles Carrillo has blended craft, conservation, and innovation throughout his career as a santero, a carver and painter of images of saints. The depiction of saints for religious purposes dates to the 18th century in Hispanic New Mexican communities. Carrillo started his creative journey in 1978 when he began researching the techniques, materials, and subject matter of the early santeros. Today he is recognized not only as the primary authority on this subject but also as the most accomplished artist practicing in this regional tradition.
Testimony to his skills includes his awards, including the Museum of International Folk Art's Hispanic Heritage Award, as well as numerous First Place, Best of Show, and Grand Prize entries in the Annual Traditional Spanish Market in Santa Fe. In 2006 he will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Spanish Market. Carrillo earned a doctorate in anthropology/archaeology from the University of New Mexico, but his true commitment to tradition has led him to work within the religious community of northern New Mexico as an artist and an advocate.
He spearheaded the rebuilding of La Morada de Nuestra Señora de Dolores del Alto (chapter house of the Penitential Brotherhood) after it was damaged by a tragic fire and vandalism. One of his nominators said of Carrillo that he "has a splendid sense of tradition and a deep knowledge of its particulars, which he respects and adheres to and aids his friends to come to love; he has the knack – the genius – to make an old tradition new every day..."
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency