In 2017, Virgil Ortiz conceptualized his first show of Taboo. It was a unique opportunity for him to engage the unacceptable or forbidden through his work in clay. The success of the show reflected not only his creativity but spoke to people in a way that allowed them to explore their own feelings about these issues. Two years later Ortiz is returning to these sensitive subjects in Taboo II. His new work is intended to inspire dialogues concerning the difficulties and challenges faced by communities around the world and provide awareness and provoke positive change.
What is Taboo?
These are the topics we avoid in polite conversation, to that which society proscribes as outside its current social, sexual, cultural or political mores. Many actions or even social groups, which were once considered “taboo”, are now part of the mainstream. When does that which is forbidden become that which is acceptable? Ortiz has spent a career engaging challenging themes through his provocative pottery figures and vessels.
He continues a century of Cochiti Pueblo potters using their clay art as means for social commentary. Ortiz is redefining Native art through his artistry. His new works in Taboo II are both beautiful and at times a bit unnerving. That’s just the way he likes it. He challenges the viewer to take in the complexity of design and form, while simultaneously processing the content. It may all be a bit taboo for Native art, but what is “cutting edge” today will certainly be the standard of tomorrow.
“MMIWG are the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. There is an innate difficulty to grapple with the extent and impact of these missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls. At a rate of 15 missing each day, they are rarely accounted for in federal statistics. The impact ranges from reservations to urban communities.
This piece was created to bring awareness to this epidemic. The spirits of these missing women and girls need guidance to the next life – many of them have not been given a proper burial and send-off. The hummingbirds, or “Miiich” in the Keres language, serve as guides and protectors for these lost mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts and loved ones so that they are able to return home.” -Virgil Ortiz
The world today seems increasingly turbulent and uncertain. This traditional storage jar speaks for the degradation of women and their continued pursuit of equality and justice. This has long been an important theme in my art. The women’s fists are uplifted.
They are the ones to hold our leaders accountable or they will be “hung out to dry”. The fists are entwined with the symbolic black snake of the oil pipelines. It is corruption that will eventually eat away at politicians from the inside out. I painted each section of this jar as a call for those who feel impelled to rise up.