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Luis Tapia

Also Known as: Luis Eligio Tapia

Santa Fe, New Mexico 1950


Wood carver, born in 1950 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Inspired by native Spanish-American music and Hispanic civil rights issues, Tapia began to explore his own heritage in the early 1970s, and as a result began carving santos after examining figures in churches and museums around Santa Fe. He received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1980. In addition to carving figures in wood, Tapia makes and restores furniture and constructs and restores reredos (altar screens) for churches in northern New Mexico.

Latino Art and Culture Bilingual Study Guide (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1996)

Additional Biographies

A native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Luis Tapia is a self-taught, contemporary artist. Like many in his generation who grew up during a time of cultural homogenization—as well as the emergence of movements for civil rights and social consciousness—Tapia was determined to learn more about his culture. He began carving santos, studying them in churches and in the collections at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. Around the same time, he helped found La Confradia de Artes y Artesanos Hispanicos, which has been instrumental in the contemporary revival of Southwest art.

Jonathan Yorba Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (New York and Washington, D.C.: Watson-Guptill Publications, in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2001)