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Jesus Urbano

Artisan Organization: Jesus Urbano

Country: Peru

"I was born in 1929 in Huanta, Ayacucho. My parents were farmers and my father was a strict man. So I left home to live in the beautiful city of Huamanga, where I took a variety of jobs, from selling shaved ice cones to working as a gardener, which led me to meet master artisan Joaquin Lopez. He crafted retablos — dioramas illustrating life in the Andes using small, hand-modeled figurines housed in a colorful, hand-painted display box.

"I asked him to teach me his craft, but he didn't want to at first. Thanks to his wife, he finally accepted as a helper. Little by little, I learned by watching. Later, with the help of Joaquin's son, I perfected my technique and eventually began to create my own pieces and designs.

"When I finally mastered the technique, Mr. Joaquin mentored me and even became my friend. His friendship meant a great deal to me.

"I think the roughest time in my life was when I had to leave my beloved in the 1980s Ayacucho due to terrorism.

"I'd describe my art as charming. It is a reflection of life in the Andes, its people, and towns. I love to share these glimpses of Peru, and it motivates me to know that people in different countries appreciate my work and keep it in their homes.

"Crafting retablos is the perfect complement to my life. It fills me with satisfaction when I finish a new design.""