At Indian Market in Santa Fe every August, pueblo pottery is perhaps the most coveted. Ranging in technique and design, pots, jars, urns, and plates tell a story of traditional craftsmanship, often brought into the 21st century by modern potters. “I am inspired by modern design of all kinds, whether it is fashion, architecture, film, sculpture, or music,” says Ortiz. “These influences transform as I build my figurative clay works.”
Primarily making their homes in the Four Corners region, Pueblo tribes established dwellings and trade centers similar to those located at Chaco Canyon in Northwestern New Mexico and Mesa Verde in Southwestern Colorado. Today, many of the 19 pueblos in New Mexico bring variations and techniques in technology, form, and decorative style to pottery. Cultural traditions, religious beliefs, and family customs also play a part in the formation of clay.
At Indian Market, one can expect to see a variety of contemporary pieces, including hand-coiled figures of demons and devils with tattoo-like designs. Virgil Ortiz, whose work may be found not only at Blue Rain Gallery, but in museums nationwide, integrates cutting-edge imagery into traditionally realized work, winning multiple awards at Indian Market. Ortiz’s mission is to not only revive the style and subjects created in the late 1800s but also to continue to tell the story of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. Because the historical figurative work of the Cochiti Pueblo appears contemporary in design, it was a natural progression for him to take these influences and add his own interpretations.
“It is an exciting time to witness the birth of these artistic ideas in full force at Indian Market,” Ortiz says. “My traditional work will always be the heart and soul of everything I do. I am now entering into the world of high-fire contemporary ceramics — a new and exciting body of work I plan to unveil during this year’s market.”