Imagine foreign forces abruptly entering your homeland, enforcing laws, invalidating your religion, prohibiting the expression of your culture, plundering your resources, and executing your family members and fellow citizens. Then, after nearly a century living under this oppressive force, seeing an indigenous counterforce from disparate enclaves unite behind a dynamic leader, rising up to drive the foreign invaders from the land and restore the lost culture.
All of this actually occurred in what is now the Santa Fe/Taos area of New Mexico. The foreign force was the Spanish Conquistadors, and the victims were the Pueblo Natives of the area — events that culminated in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Under the leadership of tribal leader Po’pay, the revolt successfully overwhelmed Spanish forces, and although the area was reoccupied 12 years later, the events of 1680 are credited with preserving ancient Pueblo cultural traditions from extinction.
If this exhibition were strictly a history lesson intermingled with traditional pottery, would we be talking about a contemporary ‘Revolution’? Not likely. But the strands of culture Ortiz’s art interweaves are nearly as diverse as the various media used to express it. And most of it is looking forward … in some cases, very far forward.