cover image High Riders, Saints and Death Cars: A Life Saved by Art

High Riders, Saints and Death Cars: A Life Saved by Art

Nicholas Herrera, as told to Elisa Amado, photos by John T. Denne. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $24.95 (56p) ISBN 978-0-88899-854-5

The subtitle of New Mexican folk artist Herrera's autobiography (told to and written by Amado) isn't hyperbole: even Herrera's mother wasn't sure he would survive his wild and self-destructive teenage years during the 1960s ("If he makes it to twenty-five he'll make it," she says). Herrera does make it%E2%80%94barely. After emerging from a coma following an alcohol-related car accident, Herrera devotes his life to creating art, following in the footsteps of his great-uncle, a "santero" who created statues of saints. Herrera's folk art sculptures are all his own, however, blending religious iconography with imagery from contemporary Hispanic and biker culture, as well as social and political commentary (the striking The Three Kings shows the Holy Family fleeing Herod on an eight-cylinder "trike" motorcycle). Never minimizing the gravity of Herrera's struggles, the book makes clear the concrete impact that art can have. Ages 10%E2%80%93up. (June)