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Juan Amadeo Sánchez

1901 Rio Pueblo, New Mexico - 1969

The artist Juan Amadeo Sánchez, born in Rio Pueblo in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, was hired as a "copyist" and instructed by the Federal Arts Project (FAP) to replicate colonial New Mexican religious art. Sánchez, however, did not consider himself to be a santero (religious painter), since his "reproductions" were meant for national and statewide travelling art exhibitions rather than for religious purposes. For this reason, Juan Sánchez took special care in documenting his own work. He often included the phrase "copied for the WPA" next to his signature so that the secular nature of his religious "reproductions" would not be misinterpreted.
Juan Sánchez's work did not receive great acclaim during the 1930s, given his status as a "copyist." His partial paralysis due to childhood rheumatism unfortunately led many WPA officials to stereotype his WPA contributions in terms of "handicap rehabilitation" rather than as the work of a talented artist.