Nick Herrera outside his Studio

B. 1964
Lives El Rito, New Mexico

Nick Herrera has lived in El Rito, a small desert town near Santa Fe, his whole life. Like his father, and his grandfather before him, he carves wood. Nick is the "Santero of El Rito", named so for the holy images of the saints that he creates. His carvings capture both the traditional images of the Catholic Church, as well as his own personal creations, such as the three headed figure he uses to represent the Holy Trinity (see picture below). Nick also makes wonderful altars, and paints retablos, some containing religious figures, and some just showing the daily life of his pueblo.
"The Holy Trinity"
From unpainted carving to the finished work
But don't get the idea that Nick Herrera is some sort of ultra-serious priest like figure. While he does come across as very spiritual, he's an interesting mix of the church and the street. He's kind of like a mix of a holy man, and a low-rider vato. One minute he'll tell you about the altar he built for a local church, and the next minute he'll show you the Harley he built. From his stories, it sounds like he ran with a rough crowd early in his life, but has since cleaned himself up and dedicated himself to his art.


bertha halozan
Levent Isik
Bertha Halozan