For nearly two decades, Virgil Ortiz has told the story of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt through his artwork, contemporizing the central characters as sci-fi superheroes to engage younger generations. This significant historic event is rarely taught, in fact, it has been merely a footnote in most history books, if mentioned at all, but represents one of our nation’s most dramatic uprisings as the Puebloan people banded together to defeat their Spanish colonizers. The revolt was well-orchestrated and swiftly executed, restoring freedoms of religion, ceremony, expression, and language after a century of oppression.

Ortiz views himself as a conduit, that he is responsible for using his artistic vision and talents to preserve and perpetuate the art forms of his Indigenous heritage. Ortiz mined the Fine Arts Center’s collection for historic works that represent both the Native and European influences on New Mexico. The artist paid special attention to objects that depict the power and suffering of Catholic saints, highlighting the role of religion in colonialism. 

Presented alongside the historical works are contemporary objects by Virgil Ortiz; these represent the past decade of his creative output, rooted in traditional techniques and symbolism while looking to the future, educating connoisseurs, collectors, and the curious alike about the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Though the revolt occurred nearly 350 years ago, the reasons for and results of it remain profoundly relevant today. The artist himself is a product of these historical figures and events, and the fight against prejudice, genocide, and ethnocentrism rages on. The strength of the people to band together, rise up, and fight for freedom and equality is repeatedly demonstrated in contemporary society. We must never stop defending human rights. Virgil Ortiz’s telling and reimagining of the Pueblo Revolt is a powerful reminder to stay vigilant in the war against our oppressors. Let it not be forgotten.

Protect. Cultivate. Revive. Educate.

I am Translator. What I am about to tell you is not for the faint of heart, so please open your mind…

It is a time of hostility and menace. An ominous force intruded in the name of conquest to claim land, wealth, and power. They occupied the land aggressively, using tactics of fear, torture, and weapons of mass destruction.

Honoring their natural ways of being, the Natives initially welcomed the newcomers, only later realizing the need to fight back after recognizing the impossibility of coexistence. A new level of rebellion ensued…

On the verge of death, a fearless Pueblo man escaped from confinement to devise a revolt for all his people. His name is Po’Pay and he has a plan…


For full-screen viewing, double click on any video

This exhibition was made possible through the generosity of Colorado Springs Fine Art Center at Colorado College, Ideum, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the invaluable expertise and contributions of many private lenders, thoughtful collaborators, and Colorado College students.

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