Cordova Santeras

Benita Reino López 
Gloria López  Córdova 
Sabinita López -Ortiz 
Sandra López  Martinez
Orlene Ortiz Córdova 
Orlinda Sherwood López  
Sherwood Lopez_Three Flowers.jpg

Female carvers of Cordova:


Although there is very little proof that women took part in the early creation of Saints, that changed in the early 1900s. 


Female carvers from Cordova, New Mexico that followed in the tradition of their elder family members began to emerge. These artists and others like them became known as “Santeras”, the female counterpart to the Santeros. 


The practice of making Saints is often passed down from family member to family member. This tradition has helped to introduce the artform, and the cultural significances that eventually resonated with many  women. 


Today, these Santeras are painters as well as carvers that have become highly influential and continue to pass down their artform to further generations.

Orlinda Sherwood Lopez. Three Flowers. Est Date 2005. Aspen. 

12 1/2"h x 13"1 x 8"d . Courtesy of Floyd Lucero and Maria Padilla

Sabinita Lopez Ortiz is a third generation wood carver from the northern New Mexico village of Cordova.Her carvings have been displayed at the Smithonian, the Taylor Museum for Southwestern Studies and many more

Sabinita Lopez Ortiz-- continues the tradition of her grandfather, Jose Dolores Lopez, who founded the "School of Cordova" carving. She and her family continue to live and work in the original family compound in the small Northern New Mexican village of Cordova. Sabinita is the daughter of Ricardo Lopez (son of Jose Dolores Lopez); she was adopted by her uncle George Lopez (also a son of Jose Dolores Lopez).


Following the tradition of unpainted, unadorned, chip-carved bultos she is continuing into the third generation of carvers and has taught her children and grandchildren to carve. Sabinita was accepted into Spanish Market in 1987 and has major pieces shown at the Smithsonian, The Taylor Museum for Southwestern Studies, the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe and the Museum of Anthropology in Albuquerque to name a few.


Lopex Ortiz_Adam and Eve.JPG

Sabinita Lopez Ortiz. Adam and Eve. 2018. Aspen and cedar. 

11 × 17 × 7 in. Courtesy of the Artist

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Gloria López Cordova. Nuestra Señora de la Luz, 1995. Carved aspen and cedar. entire piece: 17 1/2 × 9 1/2 × 7 in. (44.5 × 24.1 × 17.8 cm).  Courtesy of Ron and Diane Martinez

Gloria Lopez Cordova comes from a family of woodworkers known throughout northern New Mexico for their unique chip carved Santos, activities, birds and trees of life. Carved from aspen, cedar or pine, the López artists are noted for their naturalistic, unpainted figures. Her parents, Rafael and Precide López, were sinters; and her grandfather, José Dolores López, an acclaimed woodcarver. Gloria began her apprenticeship as a Santera at age eight, helping her parents sand their carvings. In 1978, Gloria opened her studio and began showing her work at Spanish Market. She became known as the successor to the López carving legacy. She is known for her ability to sand and finish aspen wood to such a degree that it has been mistaken for polished ivory. Since those early days, Gloria has been honored with high-profile exhibitions of her work at the Smithsonian Institute, the Museum of International Folk Art, Millicent Rogers Museum, Albuquerque Museum, Tucson Museum of Art and the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum.

In 2007 at the Traditional Spanish Market, Gloria was honored with the José Dolores López Memorial Award and she received a 1st Place Leo Salazar Memorial Award in the Unpainted Bultos category. Last year Gloria won 2rd Place in Bultos at Tesoro. She was recognized for her talent when she received the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2000. In 2009, Gloria received the Masters Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society. In 2013 Gloria won 3rd
Place in Bultos at Tesoro’s Spanish Colonial Market.

Smithsonian American Art Museum