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Living Shrines - Home Altars of New Mexico

Item Number: 62764

Catalog Code: 9780890133705

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Living Shrines

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 General Description:

The tradition of home shrines in the American Southwest first began evolving during the Mexican colonial period, when priests often traveled to homes to perform mass, novenas, baptisms, and marriages, a practice that continues today. This colorful book features the personal altars of mostly Hispanic families living in the towns and villages of northern New Mexico. Most are devoutly Catholic, and although Roman Catholic teaching does not officially recognize home shrines, the altar tradition for most Hispanos is a sign of being "Catholic from the heart." Their private altars allow for devotion in daily life, a practice embraced by those of all beliefs who desire personal sacred places to meditate, pray, or reflect. These portraits will serve as an inspiration for even the least devout among us desiring more spirituality in our lives.

Internationally renowned photographer Siegfried Halus renders the shrines in all their colorful splendor, arranges in living rooms and bedrooms, mounted on dressers, fireplace mantels, refrigerators and television sets, and in grotto structures placed in yards and on roadsides. The indoor altars are laid out with rosaries, prayer books, candles, holy water, and plaster statues of religious figures alongside family photographs, mementos, and special written requests. The altars vary from the unpretentious to elaborate arrangements with dried or fresh flowers and decorated with traditional Hispanic folk art such as santos and tinwork.

Lucy R. Lippard explores the place of personal shrines in contemporary culture, and Marie Romero Cash puts into historical context the use of home altars by Nuevo Mexicanos. Both essays draw from interviews with owners and residents of the more than eighty home altars featured.

Lippard is an art historian and the author of fifteen books on contemporary art, including the recent Lure of the Local. Romero Cash is a writer, artist and santera. Siegfried Halus is chairman of the art department at Santa Fe Community College and a lifelong teacher of photography. He has been exhibited and published widely in the U.S. and Europe.

Product Details

H x W: 
9"  (22.8 cm) x 9"  (22.8 cm)

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