Saint Joseph & The Laborers, Retablo Making Workshop

Watch and take part in this free retablo making workshop taught by NMSU alumni: Karen Conley, in collaboration with the Dona Ana Arts Council
Lesson plan available for download by clicking here. 

The New Mexico State University Art Museum hosted its first Spring 2021 virtual program in connection with their newest exhibition, “Saint Joseph & The Laborers.” The exhibit, curated by NMSU graduate student Courtney Uldrich, delves into the role of the laborer through the lens of Mexican retablo imagery. The exhibition will be on display in the Margie and Bobby Rankin Retablo Gallery by appointment from Feb. 20 through Nov. 6.

A retablo is a devotional painting of saints, religious personages or votive offerings traditionally created on small sheets of tin-coated iron. There are two types of retablos: the Santos and Ex-voto. Their purpose is to induce spiritual qualities of love, respect, devotion, faith, sacrifice and humility directed toward the person or thing they represent.

The workshop uses readily available materials such as cardboard, markers, stencils and more to allow participants to create their own personalized retablo from home. The recommended supply list includes:

– Cardboard cut into rectangles
– Sandpaper (optional for rounding edges of your cardboard)
– Markers
– Ruler/Straight Edge (optional)
– Pencils
– Oil pastels (optional, other good ideas would be crayons, paint)
– Stencils (see website for download)
– Glue Sticks/Modge Podge (optional for collage style)
– Magazines/Photos (optional for collage style)
– Gold Marker/Paint Pen (optional)
– Scissors (optional)

The completed retablos will be used for the museum’s next event, “Joseph’s Feast Day,” a community-sourced collection of homemade altars built by confined families all over the world. Altars can include retablos, photographs, food offerings, rosaries, milagros or other materials that may connect to stories of surviving COVID-19, struggles with illness or hardship and other journeys associated with labor.

Photos of completed alters may be sent to,, from March 1 to March 18. Submissions will be posted on the University Art Museum Instagram (@nmsuartmuseum) on Saint Joseph’s Day, March 19.

To reserve an appointment to view the exhibit, visit LINK. To learn more about this event and other upcoming events, visit Homepage.