José Joaquim de Araújo was born in 1952, into a family with a wood working tradition – from carpenters to master saint makers. In 1961, in the town of Domingos Mourão where he was born, there was a large demand for ex-votos, and so he started sculpting his first images. “I used to make my pieces and put them away. I had 10 pieces in a toolbox when I moved to Pedro II, in 1970. I came to work on the truck of a businessman. He saw the figurines and bought all of them. Then, in 1973, Master Dezinho and my uncle, Master Expedito, invited me to help them build a church in the Vermelha neighbourhood, in Teresina (PI). The orders started to come and I have never stopped. I stopped being a carpenter and followed in the footsteps of my uncle. Today I’m a master saint maker – Master Araújo.”
His wife, Verônica Amorim da Silva, says “fate wanted me to end up working with wood. I never dreamt of doing it but I used to watch my husband working and helped him sanding the pieces. After three years of marriage, Verônica started carving pieces of wood without telling her husband. “He used to get home and see the bits of wood on the kitchen floor. I didn’t say anything because I thought he wouldn’t like it. I had 10 pieces ready, and didn’t want to copy his work”.
Verônica finally showed her work to her husband and apparently there was no problem. Today, they work together. “I never repeat the pieces. I make the things I see around me. Pregnant women breastfeeding, washing clothes, selling coconuts, and I dream of one day having my own exhibition. On that day, the piece I’ve been working on for the last 8 years will finally be ready.”