Virgil Ortiz Brings the Pueblo Revolt to a New Century

By MAHEA DANIELS

Entering the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center exhibit featuring Virgil Ortiz’s artwork can best be described as stepping into a time machine. The exhibit “Revolution: Rise Against the Invasion,” does not just transport visitors into the future, it also allows them to see how this future is shaped by the historical events of the past. The exhibit was curated by  John P. Lukavic, who juxtaposes modern artistic backdrops with traditional pieces of pottery. This layout sets the scene of Ortiz’s story, which re-envisions the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 as a dynamic futuristic setting in 2180.

Photos by Daniel Sarché

In front of visitors as they walk into the exhibit is a full black and white wall featuring a picture of an empty, stormy, dune-like plane. However, after entering into the open space of the first room, it is evident that the curation of this exhibit does not directly bring people into Ortiz’s 2180 setting. Rather, contemporary black and white geometric images serve as the backdrop for Ortiz’s traditional pottery works, which line the walls.

The exhibit, taken as a whole, indicates how personal the Pueblo Revolt is to Ortiz, as he is a member of the Pueblo tribe. When delving deeper into the pieces in the exhibit, one piece by the entrance specifically caught my attention. This pottery piece was titled “Never Silenced,” and it encompassed a theme carried throughout the exhibit.

The middle room serves as a bridge between the traditional styles of Pueblo art and Ortiz’s graphic and outfit designs. This highly interactive room holds life-size sculptures of two opposing teams facing off in the Pueblo Revolt of 2180, while moving images and videos of the evolution of this battle are framed on the walls. The patterns used in this space are continued from the first room, reflecting Ortiz’s intention of continuity. One of his primary goals is to carry on the multigenerational Pueblo art and sculpting techniques into present day by creating modern, multimedia art.

The final room of the exhibit features large sculptures that combine both glass and clay, along with a movie screen projection of Ortiz’s talking about his process, goals, and missions. This room serves as a conclusion to the story presented earlier, adding depth through personalization with the stories that Ortiz tells in the videos.

While sitting in the deserted exhibit, I was both grateful that I was one of the only people present to fully immerse myself into the interactive artwork and remorseful that there was not more foot traffic, a bigger audience to admire the excellence that this exhibit displays. Ultimately, the exhibit featuring Ortiz’s work cannot solely be described through words, but must be experienced. This article can neither fully encapsulate the experience nor probably persuade a majority of the campus community to step into Ortiz’s time machine. Despite this, I urge Colorado College students to take a break from the busy Block Plan and enter into the world that Ortiz created, with traditions of the past included in his visions of the future.

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