Rhonda Crespin. Persingula, 2018. Hand-carved aspen and pine, gypsum gesso, natural pigment, watercolor paint, piñon varnish with beeswax. entire piece: 18 1/2 × 9 1/2 × 5 1/4 in. (47 × 24.1 × 13.3 cm). Courtesy of Christopher Jones
Rhonda Crespin has been carving devotional pieces for more than 30 years. She began by making a gift for her mother. Her uncle, an artisan represented in Spanish Market, was impressed with her skill and suggested she apply to participate in the market and she was juried into the Spanish market in 1992.
She lives and works in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, where she harvests aspen for her hand-carved bultos. Incredibly detailed, her pieces are carved, then coated with her hand-made gypsum gesso. Next she meticulously paints the figures using natural-pigment, water-based paints, and finally applies a coat of pinon-sap varnish and beeswax for protection. Every step of the her process involves materials she produces, and the finished pieces reflect the love and care that goes into them. One of her pieces, a bulto featuring Archangel Gabriel, was selected for the Spanish Market’s poster in 2019.
A favorite subject for Rhonda is Saint Francis of Assisi. She always depicts him in a blue robe, using blue pigment she makes using the indigo plant. These and other carvings of religious figures have brought acclaim and numerous awards to Rhonda as an outstanding santera.