images“A retablo in Mexican folk art is a devotional painting, especially a small popular or folk art one using iconography derived from traditional Catholic church art. In Spain and other Spanish speaking countries and the Philippines the word is used in the original, different though related sense, where retablo is equivalent to reredos in English or retable in French. It means a decorated vertical structure rising behind the altar of a church, typically including painting, sculpture or combination of the two, and an elaborate framework enclosing it. The Latin etymology of this Spanish word means “board behind”.[1] Aside from being found behind the altar, “similar ornamental structures are built and carved over facades and doorways” (Fernandez 23), called overdoes.” (artist unknown)


“Retablos are important to Mexican folk religion because they are a physical representation of holy images such as Christ, the Virgin Mother, or one of the many thousands of saints. They come from the need humans have to interact on a personal level with divine spirits. Retablos are evidentiary support for communication between the divine and humans. The way a retablo and ex-voto look is entirely up to the person designing it, so long as it contains the necessary basic elements. The most important part of the retablo is the representation of the miraculous event. An ex-voto is, more often than not, reduced to a smaller size. It is usually about half the size of the original, while still maintaining its rectangular shape. The largest size was about 280 square inches. The smallest was about 18 square inches. Some of the most common sizes include 140 square inches and 70 square inches.” retablo-2(artist unknown)

I’ve been working on my own Retablos the past few months and through my most recent effort,  I’ve uncovered another evolution regarding my journey to heal. The child is stepping away from one of her demons.retablo-3Karen Divine

retablo-4Karen Divine