This is a critical moment for the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) and for Native art. Today, many Native artists feel that they are being discouraged, or that there is an attempt to silence their art, much as happened in the past. Even if it is by accident that some of the older artists didn’t get booths at market this year, there is that feeling that their work doesn’t matter. However, the truth is just the opposite: all these Native artists are coming from a similar background. We all use art to tell our stories.
For me, it is both a personal and cultural experience.
I have been telling the story of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 for the past two decades. It is not just a story of persecution and revolt, but also a story of resilience — one that seems to be more important than ever to talk about in today’s political and cultural climate. Cochiti Pueblo’s figurative art was destroyed in the 17th century by the conquistadors, who associated it with sorcery and witchcraft. After the revolt and the return of the Spanish, clay once again became a means of personal and cultural expression. By the 1880s, the monos — figures historically created by the women of the pueblo — provided a social commentary on what seemed to be a fast-changing world. Today, the speed of change via social media and the internet makes it increasingly important for Native artists to keep our art relevant and to use art as an educational tool.
Virgil Ortiz (Cochiti Pueblo) — the son and grandson of renowned potters Seferina Ortiz and Laurencita Herrera — won his first Santa Fe Indian Market award at age 14. He is a sculptor, photographer, graphic artist, fashion designer and home decor designer. His work has been exhibited and collected both nationally and internationally. To learn more about Ortiz and his work, visit virgilortiz.com.
ABOUT THE COVER
The image of Aeronauts searching desert battlefields is from Revolt 1680/2180, Virgil Ortiz’s ongoing film project.
The accompanying narrative and video trailer:
A larger-scale video, introducing more characters from his “Revolt” storyline, will be unveiled at Ortiz’s “Revolution: Rise against the Invasion” exhibit at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center on October 6, 2018.
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