nicholas herrera


Nicholas Herrera is an Outsider, folk artist, from Northern New Mexico. His relatives were among the early settlers who came to New Mexico with Onate in 1598. Nicholas is a descendent of landowners, farmers, artists and soldiers. 

As a young man he walked a wild and precariously thin line until a sudden near death experience, involving a car accident, transformed his trajectory in life. 

He now lives a simple life in pursuit of meaning and metaphor through his art as a modern Santero who creates bultos, retablos, and large-scale works from recycled metal. Through the use of wood, natural pigments and mixed media, Nicholas has exhibited his artwork both locally and nationally that reflect the heritage of traditional santero art and addresses important contemporary social and political views. His strong personality and his independent spirit determine his powerful paintings and sculptures that depict, aside from the religious icons of his Catholic faith, images of the hardship of rural life, the demons of drugs and alcohol, the horrors of war and terrorism.

Nicholas’ artistic abilities are diverse and each piece speaks of a spiritual nature that transcends traditional religion. He has many life accomplishments with worldwide recognition. His art is featured in over 30 museums worldwide, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Nicholas has also been referenced or written about in hundreds of books and publications including two biographies, Nicholas Herrera: Visions of My Heart and High Riders, Saints and Death Cars: A Life Saved by Art. He has also received numerous awards and recognition, including the 2006 Award of Distinction from the Folk Art Society of America.

Nicholas has a rich history of supporting and helping others find their own artistic path and to give back to the community. From teaching small school children and troubled teens how to make retablos, to galvanizing a group of artists to create an alter screen for a renovated church, Nicholas has developed his craft fully. His inherent talent and natural need to create, reveal a deep connection to his past. Nicholas has taught children’s workshops through the Spanish Colonial Art Society, the Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe, the Chicano Arts Festival in Denver and at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum in Los Angeles, among others. Through the years, Nicholas has provided many free seminars and lectures at public libraries, area schools, museums and churches. Not only has he opened his home to the local youth through residential apprenticeships, he frequently shares his story, art, culture and heritage with international, national and local visitors. Nicholas is still truly a New Mexican “village artist”, residing on his family’s land within the community in which he grew up.

Nicholas has donated countless pieces of art so that organizations, nonprofits and public programs as well as personal friends in need, may benefit by the sale or auctioning of his artwork. He has made numerous donations to museums worldwide as an effort to unify people and cultures. He continues to assist the local moradas and churches with restorations and renovations of religious artwork.


PO Box 43
15 County Rd 249
El Rito, NM 87530

Selected Awards and Honors
Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, New Mexico, 2016
National Folk Art Society, National Award of Distinction, 2006

Selected Collections
Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, Albuquerque, NM
American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY
American History Art Museum, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC
DePaul University Museum, Chicago, IL
El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM
El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY
Espanola Convento Museum, Espanola, NM
Flatwater Folk Art Museum, Brownsville, NE
Foothills Art Center, Golden, CO
Gene Autry Museum of American Heritage, Los Angeles, CA
Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM
Herberger College of Fine Arts, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
La Inglesia de Ojo Caliente Museum, Ojo Caliente, NM
Longwood Center for the Visual Art, Farmville, VA
Luce Foundation Center for American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, NM
Museum of American Folk Art, New York, NY
Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, NM
Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts, Santa Fe, NM
National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL
Price Tower Arts Center, Bartlesville, OK
Regis University Collection of New Mexican Santos, Denver CO
Ross Art Museum, Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH
San Andrea Della Valle Theatine General House, Rome, Italy
Sangre De Cristo Art Center, Pueblo, CO
Santa Fe Children's Museum, Santa Fe, NM
Sheldon Museum of Arts, Lincoln, NE
Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
The Southern Ohio Museum, Kenny Galleries, Portsmouth, OH
Spanish Colonial Art Society Collection, Santa Fe, NM
Taylor Museum, Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, Colorado Springs, CO
The Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, IL
The Terra Foundation of American Art, Paris, France
University of Nebraska Lincoln, Lincoln, NE
William and Ann Oppenheimer Collection, Richmond, VA