Press: Salvador Romero

Fall 1999
by Michael Hice
in Native Artists Magazine

Considered a Zuni form, fetishes have been carved since around 600 A.D. Most Native tribes used the charms, but the Zuni have become known for the quality of their workmanship. Today the refinement and creativity involved in the carving of fetishes has muddied the ago-old distinction between craft and art. Not from Zuni, Romero is returning the fetish to its more primitive form. In Romero’s eyes, less is more.

“Creating my pieces is just in me,” he says. “I couldn’t (morally) copy the Zuni fetish carvers. Several of them have become friends.”

According to Robin Dunlap at Keshi, “Zuni carvers respect what Salvador is doing and come in specifically to buy his work.”

Romero loves rocks and animals. He searches the land at Cochiti for the proper stone, which gives his pieces a distinct look. The search takes longer than the carving.

“The stone has the animal in it. I just find it. I have done some strange commissions, like the sports car fetish I did recently. At first, I thought the guy was kidding, but he kept asking if I was done so I carved a car fetish. He was very happy. For myself, I prefer the bear, the mountain lion, the animals. They have power.”

Romero claims to be a private person. He prefers you know him through his art. He tried painting and several other jobs before he found his calling. Now that he has found it, he intends to stick with it.

Photo by Chuck West