In January 2020, Virgil Ortiz spent a week at Tamarind Institute, a leading lithography studio where he created the three prints as part of his Revolt 1680/2180 series. In the storyline, time-travelers move between the historic Pueblo Revolt of 1680 when the Pueblos of New Mexico banded together to overthrow the Spanish conquistadores to the futuristic revolt of 2180 against the violent Castilian invaders who destroyed the lands of the Puebloans and subjugated the people who lived there.
Ortiz’s narrative portrays the fearless visionary of the Pueblo Revolt time-traveling forward 500 years—Po’Pay, the historic organizer of the revolt and spiritual leader from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. Ortiz also created characters within his storyline: Tahu, the leader of the Blind Archers, and her twin brother, Kootz; the Watchmen, time travelers in spiky armor; No-len, Admiral of the Rez Spine Watchmen who protect the earth from attacks by the Castilian army; the Aeronauts, who summon the fleet in preparation for battle; and the Runners who relay messages and organize the revolts.
Behind The Scenes: Revolt 1680/2180 Takes an Army
Ortiz spent hours and hours with an oil pencil, a technique he found to be similar to the fine lines he uses in painting his ceramics. Working late into the night to produce the carefully hatched images. In the proofing, he added the red triangle and circle which was placed both in front of and behind the figures to produce a three-dimensional object
Translator, Commander of the Spirit World Army and Venutian Soldiers, Taoky and Lee-tho, warriors from the future in gas masks and armored galeas decked with feather-like vanes (42 x 31 in.).
Translator has three eyes, one looking to the future, one on the present, and one to the past. As the Commander of the Spirit World Army, he moves others through time and space, bringing together the ancestors of the past with the warriors of the future. For the Translator, Ortiz used a liquid form of lithographic ink to reproduce a watercolor.
Throughout his career, Ortiz has experimented and expanded his practice to include new techniques and media, learning new ways to fire, new glazing, new shapes, and challenging himself to build larger figures. He is also constantly exploring different media, including costume design, jewelry, photography, video, and, most recently lithography, with his first attempt at Tamarind. For the artist, “Working with different mediums provides a gratifying diversion while I work on various projects. I am never bored. I can pencil, paint, or digital sketch ideas for any ceramic idea, or a fashion or costume garment. Or, I can build an idea or character in clay, then reverse this process and recreate costuming and garment print designs that will appear on the fabric. Utilizing various mediums is essential for my work and creative process.”
During the week at Tamarind, he worked with the Institute’s master printer Valpuri Remling and her apprentices who assisted him through the process. The collaborative process is familiar to the artist as he often works with others to complete his projects, including ceramic artists, weapon experts, and videographers. Ortiz found some aspects of the process challenging and the team helped guide him through the process, and he views these prints as “an inevitable and natural expansion of my creations.” Though this was Ortiz’s first works in the medium, his prints employ many different qualities in the production of lithographs demonstrate the flexibility of the medium, which can reproduce and combine the qualities of a drawing, a painting, an etching, or a photograph, as well as adding new features of its own.