Ortiz, Virgil – Blind Archer and Hummingbirds Canteen (2018)
This is a larger canteen by Virgil Ortiz. The piece is coil built and painted with native clay slips and wild spinach (a plant) for the black. The design on the front of the canteen is Tahu, the Blind Archer in her 1680 version. The story for this imagery from the Pueblo Revolt 1680/2180 series. Regarding Tahu, the Blind Archer, Virgil gave her the iconic line, “Don’t be blinded by your Fear”. The last photo is one by Virgil of Tahu standing in the forest and you can see where he has taken this imagery to create the design on the canteen. I wrote in Virgil Ortiz: Pueblo Revolt 1680/2180:
“In 2007 Ortiz began to identify and give form to characters who would populate his fictionalized version of the Pueblo Revolt: Tahu, a girl blinded by the Spanish conquistadors; Mopez, the leader of the Pueblo Runners; and the Castilians to represent the Spanish invaders. The characters who make up the Pueblo Revolt series are inspired by names and words in Keres (the indigenous language of Cochiti Pueblo) and other Puebloan languages. “Tahu” is a word used as a sign of respect for older Pueblo women. “Mopez” means “cardinal” and was the Keres name of Ortiz’s brother. “I wanted to use native language words and names to identify the characters. Part of the Revolt story had to be the actual events, but I also wanted it to tie into our language. If I could get the kids interested in history I might also be able to get them interested in our language and keep it alive.”
There are also two hummingbirds which are symbolic for Virgil’s mother, Seferina Ortiz, who taught him to make pottery. Can you see the “spirit line” in the design? It is at the rim of the canteen. The spirit line is a break in the painting and used on traditional Cochiti pottery. Virgil has also incorporated his signature “x”, which is the turkey track into the designs. The back of the canteen has a wildflower design which encircles the piece and flows onto the front. The piece is signed on the back. The canteen sits in a metal museum mount so show both the front and the back of the piece. The use of traditional and contemporary imagery has become a standard for Virgil’s pottery as he pushes the boundaries of contemporary Native clay.
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