Félix López was raised in a large, close-knit family in Santa Cruz, New Mexico. When their beloved father died in 1975, the López family arranged for a traditional wake in the meeting house near their home. As he and his family grieved over this difficult loss, López was profoundly affected by seeing his father laid in state surrounded by assorted santos. He later remarked, “It moved me so much, culturally, spiritually, that I knew I couldn’t be my old self any more.” From that point he was inspired to rediscover his cultural heritage and began studying the santos tradition. Two years after his father’s death, López took up carving. At first he produced small animal sculptures, but soon began carving images of saints.
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)