Raymond Sandoval grew up in Jemez Springs with his grandmother.
Very young, he began to draw and paint under the encouragement of his grandmother.
“She gave me a lot of support to get things done,” he says. “When I ran out of paint, I found stones and crushed them to make my own painting. ”
Art has been a constant in his life.
Today, Sandoval is based in Jemez Springs and continues to create in a variety of media.
“When I was younger, I discovered clay and fell in love with it,” he says. “You can create something and start over several times. This allows you to be creative once you’ve unlocked what’s in it.
He sees art as a challenge and as a way to learn.
“(Art) is also a way for me to escape the world,” he says. “When I’m working on something, I’m in my own little world. ”
Sandoval took a journey with his career in art. He first enrolled in Michigan school before a teacher advised him to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
“My teacher from Michigan told me I saw everything in three dimensions,” he says. “He told me about PAFA and told me it was school for me. This is where my imagination ran wild and I created.
Sandoval recently completed the sculpture “Christo del Amor”. This summer it was installed at Mary Church, Mother of Priests in Jemez Springs.
While “Christo del Amor” has taken a long time and is large in size, Sandoval says his largest sculpture is “Tamanend,” which is a public work of art in Philadelphia.
The coin was built to honor the contributions of American Indians – ancestors, elders, this generation and 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 created.
“It took me two years to do,” he says.
Sandoval says ideas are spinning in his head, waiting for them to be ready to be realized.
He said that the last commission being a figure of Jesus and for the church he knew the leadership.
“It’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done,” 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 the rocks and have a connection to the land at Jemez Springs.”
As Sandoval continues to create, here are a few things you didn’t know about her:
1 “I am still here on my ancestral land where I built my house and my workshop.
2 “I love to cook and I am a gardener.”
3 “Some of my art is in Jemez Springs, Camden, New Jersey and Philadelphia.”
4 “I have been sober for 16 years.”
5 “I was working on this Guadalupe piece for The 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 is going.