Virgil Ortiz Blends Ceramics & Graphics in Futuristic Exhibition at the DAM

Virgil Ortiz Blends Ceramics & Graphics in Futuristic Exhibition at the DAM

Are you ready to see something new and exciting? Revolt 1680/2180: Virgil Ortiz on view at the Denver Art Museum invites visitors to immerse themselves in a storyline that begins with the actual Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and then continues into a futuristic world imagined by the artist. In this exhibition Virgil Ortiz blends ceramics and graphic murals to visually tell a story based on freedom and revolt.

Ortiz was inspired to look at the past and revive techniques that were used by his ancestors. He dug the clay near Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico himself and used dyes made from wild spinach, much like the way art has been made there for generations. The figures demonstrate Ortiz’s mastery of clay while his complex and intricate line work illustrates a style all his own.

Each section of the exhibition represents part of the story. Vertigo is based on a Ben Wittick photo from 1878. The figures in it were first created when tourists and carnival side shows came through the pueblos via train. Virgil Ortiz used a photograph he took in Prague of the Charles Bridge for the backdrop and reimagined the clay figures.

As the storyline moves into the future, Ortiz’s figures take on more science fiction elements. His Venutian Soldiers reflect a post-nuclear world. With the Velocity series, we have reached the year 2180. The events of 1680 are repeated again as another Revolt has occurred, only this time with time travel, wormholes, and laser beams.

We hope you come see the exhibition, and take your time to slow down and look at each line, each form, face, hand, and foot.

Installation view of Revolt 1680/2180: Virgil Ortiz. © Virgil Ortiz.

Ben Wittick photo circa 1878. The inspiration for Vertigo.

Installation image of Revolt 1680/2180: Virgil Ortiz. © Virgil Ortiz. The graphic component to his art transfers the gallery experience through Virgil’s large murals.

The wall graphics highlight the futuristic qualities in the clay sculpture. Virgil also was inspired by Star Trek and Star Wars. Installation view of Revolt 1680/2180: Virgil Ortiz. © Virgil Ortiz

John Lukavic is curator in the department of Native arts. John has been with DAM since 2012, and when visiting the museum, he recommends that visitors don’t miss Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer.