Graveyard Crosses

San Antonio Church, Punta de Agua

Punta de Aqua
Highway 55, Southern New Mexico
Karen Rivera

The small villages along Highway 55 have always held a special place in my hard-scrabble New Mexican heart. Using the few resources available in the barren, harsh acres early settlers recycled the ever-present rocks into homes, walls, and churches.

In Punta de Aqua, the rough-cut stone San Antonio Church stands as a monument to an earlier example of sustainable and green building.

If you’d like to walk through Punta de Aqua at street level, click here to go to Google Maps, then click satellite.


Carlos Sena’s Carved Cross

Carlos Sena’s Carved Cross
Our Lady of Sorrows Cemetary
Bernalillo, New Mexico
kd sebastian 2010

This unusual obelisk style grave stone is beautifully carved by hand from rock brought down from Dixon, New Mexico. Lilies, matching flaming hearts and stylized swirls give a European feel to this stone. Truly the work of a craftsman, it stood out as one of the few stones not vandalized or tagged with gang signed graffiti.


Andreita Avila’s Cross

Andreita Avila’s Cross
Our Lady of Sorrows Cemetery
Bernalillo, New Mexico
kd sebastian 21010

There’s something so touching about handmade grave markers. Many of the cemeteries in New Mexico have suffered from vandalism and neglect. Families die out, move away or simply abandon the traditional New Mexican ways.

My favorite crosses are what I call the “hard times” crosses: handmade from whatever durable materials could be afforded. Rebar, cement, wood, rocks–everything is fair game and free. Oddly enough, the poorer the community, the better kept the graveyards are.

Andreita Avila’s Cross is on the left side of Our Lady of Sorrows Graveyard in Bernalillo, New Mexico. It’s proximity to the Placitas off-ramp has made it a vandal’s dream so it was heart-warming to find this small pocket size memorial exactly where it was placed  years ago.


Izzie’s Easter Cross

Izzie’s Easter Cross
Bernalillo, New Mexico
sebastian 2010


Cornelio’s Cross

Cornelio’s Cross
Northern New Mexico
sebastian 2010


Dinner for Two

Dinner for Two
acrylic on fir
sebastian 2005

The crosses in the painting on the wall keep the afterlife ever present no matter how festive the dinner.


Rebar Cross

Rebar Cross
Bernalillo, New Mexico
sebastian 2010

All across New Mexico, small town cemetaries are filled with handmade shrines and gravestones. This simple welded cross sits at the top of an unmarked grave tucked into the corner of the Our Lady of Sorrows graveyard in Old Bernalillo.