Luis Tapia

Santa Fe, New Mexico

About Luis Tapia

Luis Tapia is a Chicano sculptor who, for nearly 50 years, has reinterpreted the 400-year-old legacy of Catholic devotional art in New Mexico as a modern form of cultural and social commentary. Born in Santa Fe, one of the oldest Hispano communities in the US, Tapia recasts hallowed religious themes and artistic techniques to address and express current social and political issues, including immigration, addiction, identity, racial injustice, crime, and pedophilia in the Catholic Church. Though initially controversial, his bold, provocative, and often humorous approach elevated Tapia as a trailblazing artist whose work reflects his activist roots and his belief that tradition is alive and evolving. At 71, Tapia's work remains rooted in a local artform that transcends global cultural and ethnic borders. His sculptures have been widely collected and exhibited in public and private collections in the US and beyond.

Program Participation

Joan Mitchell Fellowship, 2021

Website / Social Links

I first took blade to wood as a 20-year-old. My intention then, as now, was to link learned concepts of cultural history and tradition to my lived experience. I saw an opportunity to develop what was considered a quaint and primitive folk art tradition into a modern art form, and to tell a bigger story of my culture. My creative vocabulary fully expresses the proud and fractured reality of my Indo-Hispano New Mexican heritage, integrating Mesoamerican design and symbology, penitentiary-style tattoos, lowriders, and more.”