Salvador was born at the Cochiti Pueblo and first left when he went into the military in the 1970’s. His experiences in the world certainly broaden him while instilling his understanding that the place he feels most connected to and belongs is in New Mexico. The deepest traditions of the Cochiti People extend beyond Salvador’s daily and seasonal life, however; they are present in his works.
To understand Salvador’s stone carvings and his approach to being an artist, a brief background on this art form is required.
Fetishes of the Pueblo Peoples are mostly understood as being the “Zuni Fetish,” and rightly so. The Zuni Pueblo’s stone carving artwork is quite well known worldwide; they are by far the most prolific artisans of this medium. These are gorgeous, yet fairly simple, works that people cherish. However, all Pueblo Peoples have the ‘cultural right’ to make stone fetishes and have throughout their histories.
Over the past 150 years, Zuni fetishes have undergone a transformation as being works that The People make for themselves—for cultural/ spiritual reasons—to mostly being made for the Western World. The stones in former times were those found on their Homelands, although a few were acquired through traditional trade. Today, stones for contemporary fetishes come from all over the world, pieces have artistic styling, and they are finely finished. However, they don't often closely resemble the traditional works of long ago, a few of which still exist.
Salvador is back to walking the Cochiti Pueblo’s lands on a daily basis, finishing his term as Lt. Governor of his Pueblo. The occasional rock that reminds him of an animal gets picked up and taken home. These stones often come from the nearby hills or Rio Grande River. He then works the stone's overall shape towards a rustic, impressionist, more archaic perspective of the animal he envisions. The result will be a work that very much honors and resembles much older, traditional pieces that are seldom produced.
Salvador wants to make it clear that, once he is finished with a work, if it doesn’t feel like he accomplished what was originally intended, or, if the piece simply does not feel good to him, then it will not be offered on the market.
Raven Makes Gallery makes a concerted effort to represent and support current artists. We have a great respect for, and are honored to be able to offer works from, today’s artists who carry forward the most traditional of these art forms. We salute Salvador in his commitment to tradition.