Raymond Sandoval was raised in Jemez Springs with his grandmother.
At a young age, he began to draw and paint at the encouragement of his grandmother.
“She was very supportive about me making things,” he says. “When I would run out of paint, I would find rocks and grind them to make my own paint.”
Art has been a constant in his life.
Today, Sandoval is based out of Jemez Springs and is still creating in various mediums.
“When I was younger I discovered clay and fell in love with it,” he says. “You can create something and start over many times. It allows you to be creative once you unlock what it holds.”
He sees art as a challenge and as a way to learn.
“(Art) is a way to escape from the world for me, too,” he says. “When I’m working on something, I’m in my own little world.”
Sandoval has been on a journey with his career in art. He originally enrolled in school in Michigan before a professor advised him to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
“My professor in Michigan told me that I see everything three-dimensionally,” he says. “He told me about PAFA and said it was the school for me. It was there my imagination ran wild and I created.”
Sandoval recently finished the sculpture, “Christo del Amor.” This summer, it was installed at Mary, Mother of Priests Church in Jemez Springs.
While “Christo del Amor” took time and is large in size, Sandoval says his biggest sculpture is “Tamanend,” which is a public art piece in Philadelphia.
The piece was built to honor the contributions of Native American Indians – the ancestors, the elders, this generation and the generations to come. It also commemorates Tamanend, a Sakima, of the Lenni-Lenape Nation who resided in the Delaware Valley when Philadelphia or “Coaquannok” was established.
“That took me two years to make,” he says.
Sandoval says ideas run around in his head, waiting until they are ready to be realized.
He says with the latest commission being a figure of Jesus and for the church, he knew the direction.
“This was the easiest thing I ever did,” he explains. “I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Everyone was telling me to slow down, but I knew what I wanted it to look like.”
Living in Jemez Springs, is a point of inspiration.
“I always say the mountains speak to me,” he says. “I see shapes in rocks and I have a connection to the land in Jemez Springs.”
While Sandoval continues to create, here are a few things you didn’t know about him.:
1 “I’m still here on my ancestral land where I built my house and studio.”
2 “I like to cook and am a gardener.”
3 “Some of my art is in Jemez Springs, Camden, New Jersey and Philadelphia.”
4 “I’ve been sober for 16 years.”
5 “I was working on this Guadalupe piece for Day of the Dead and it took me four days to make it. Once I have the vision in my head, I know where it’s going.”