Ortiz, Virgil – “Castilians, Pueblo Revolt 1680/2180” Water Jar
This tall jar by Virgil Ortiz tells part of his story of the Pueblo Revolt. The designs are from his Revolt 1680/2180 series. There are two figures representing the Castilians or Conquistadors in the series of his work. One side has the Conquistador from 1680 and the other, the Castilian from 2180. Separating them are wildflower tendrils of design. Note on one side the additional triangular design as part of the imagery. Both figures are intricately painted using wild spinach plant for the black. There are turkey tracks which looks like an “x” near the Pueblo tendrils. The neck of the jar has a simple traditional cloud design. The jar shape itself is elegant with the high shoulder and short neck. The jar is made from native clay, native clay slips and wild spinach (the black). The piece is signed on the bottom. The use of traditional and contemporary imagery has become a standard for Virgil’s pottery as he pushes the boundaries of contemporary Native clay.
In the book, “Revolt”, I wrote about these as follows:
In 2007 Ortiz began to identify and give form to the various characters which would populate his story of the Pueblo Revolt. Tahu; the girl blinded by the Spanish Conquistadors, Mopez; the leader of the Runners, and the Castilians to represent the Spanish invaders. “I have created Native Superheroes in the form of clay, photography, video and film, which allows me the freedom to express my personal interpretation of the REVOLT – The First American Revolution. The Venutian Soldiers are futurist, herculean superheroes, over eight feet tall, who fight mainly at nighttime and possess extraordinary strength and magical powers”. Here the Venutian Soldiers reflect the destruction of pueblos by the Spanish during their original conquest. In their future version, it is the Castilians who have destroyed their ‘world’ and the Venutian Soldiers are the embodiment of this devastation. Their environment has been destroyed through nuclear weapons causing the Venutian Soldiers to use oxygen tanks and gas masks to survive. This story is a thoughtful embodiment of a world overrun and the natural order destroyed yet survivable by the sense of “Pueblo community”. The Venutians are lead by Tahu and Kootz to find a hospitable land and “rebuild their traditions and ways of life on ancestral sacred lands”.
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