Ortiz, Virgil – “Venutian Soldiers, Pueblo Revolt: 2180” Water Jar
This water jar includes some of the most iconic images in the work of Virgil Ortiz. The design is taken from his Revolt 1680/2180 series. Thre are four figures representing the Pueblo Warriors from the Venutian Soldier series of his work. It is a powerful story of the connection between man and the environment. The figures are each intricately painted and inspired by photography work he did in 2012. The last photos are some of his photography for the Venutian Soldier series. While the figures are intricately painted, the space between them is left nearly blank. However, there is a turkey track which looks like an “x”, next to each of the figures, signifying their travels. The neck of the jar has a plant and 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 the summer of 2012 Ortiz premiered his “Venutian Soldiers’. The story of the Pueblo Revolt was becoming more evolved and Ortiz was able to have fun developing more background for his characters and the events before the Revolt 2180. “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”.