Charlie Carrillo

Artist, Teacher, Writer, Anthropologist
after 1956
Functions, Occupations, and Activities
>Santero, wood carver
“Because I was interested in Spanish colonial archaeology, I began doing research there, and as I read through documents I was fascinated with all the references to santos,” the New Mexico native told NEA interviewer Mary Eckstein. “And because the ruins of Santa Rosa de Lima de Abiquiú Church are there, I decided one day to paint an image of her [Saint Rose of Lima] based on a historic picture I had seen of her from New Mexico. That got me started. And before I knew it, I was painting for people in the community and just giving things away. This was in 1977. In 1978, I got married up there – my wife is from Abiquiú. And the interest grew and grew and grew.” [Retrieved on 9/27/2017 from]
Carrillo, Charlie. Bone carving by Hispanic New Mexican pastoralists: a 400 year old tradition - 1995 - Tradicion Revista v. 1, no. 1, pp. 6-7 .;Carrillo, Charlie. Historic Hispanic NM pottery: some revealing new research - 1997 - Tradicion Revista v. 2, no. 1, pp. 29-33 .;Carrillo, Charlie. The Chama Valley: the edge of the Spanish dominion - 1997 - Tradicion Revista Summer, 1997, pp. 40-43 .
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 are his many 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 received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Spanish Market and the prestigious NEA National Heritage Fellowship. 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. A generous mentor, Charlie has inspired numerous artists to pursue the native techniques, values, and devotional spirit of the santeros.
Geographic names
Santa Fe
Related people/organizations
Jose Armijo (taught)
Nina Trujillo Gatt (is uncle/aunt of )
Frank Brito (promoted or publicized)
Related exhibition/event
A Century of Masters: The NEA National Heritage Fellows of New Mexico (participated)