Ortiz, Virgil – “Monos” Clay Figure
Virgil Ortiz is known for his innovative style of Cochiti pottery, inspired by the Monos figures made at the pueblo in the 1880s. As I wrote in the book, “Virgil Ortiz: Pueblo Revolt 1680/2180,
“This use of the figures for social commentary is where they derived their name, monos. The word is a colloquial blend of Spanish and Keres, with inexact definitions that range from “mimic,” “mocking,” or “cute” to “monkey.” While “monkey” might have suggested the elongated bodies and arms or the simplified open-mouthed faces of the figures, it was also a subtle racial pejorative aimed at their Cochiti makers.”
This is one of Virgil’s traditional clay figures made from native clay and painted with native clays and wild spinach (black). The figure has been traditionally fired. As noted the Monos figures were originally created as objects of social criticism and reflection and Virgil continues on this same path in his contemporary work. This figure has his arms raised and the body is painted with a beard and there are a sun and rain design on his chest. Extending up from the boots are plant tendrils. Virgil utilized a variety of his classic designs on the figure. Note the “turkey tracks” on the backs of the ears! There is always something fun and almost mischievous on the faces of Virgil’s figures. Note how deeply the black fired on this piece! The earrings are also traditional red clay and added after the firing. It is signed on the bottom, “Virgil Ortiz”. It is from 2005 and it is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.