Virgil Ortiz: Odyssey of the Venutian Soldiers Exhibition | Montclair Art Museum
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Virgil Ortiz: Odyssey of the Venutian Soldiers Exhibition

Start Date: 
Sep 13, 2019
End Date: 
Jun 14, 2020

For decades, renowned artist Virgil Ortiz, has focused on educating the general public about the 1680 Pueblo Revolt through his artwork and makes the Native uprising more relevant and engaging to younger generations by using contemporary art to blend this important historical event with sci-fi fantasy storylines.


Many Native people consider the uprising in 1680 to be the first American Revolution. The Pueblo Revolt took place over 300 years ago when Pueblo Indians living around Santa Fe, New Mexico, rose up and drove their Spanish oppressors away after enduring 100 years of cruel colonialism. The Revolt is not well known or taught in schools today and Ortiz wants to change that omission.


The Revolt was carefully orchestrated by Pueblo Indians to defeat physical oppression, forced religious conversion, and loss of land and crops. Ortiz sees the event as an early fight for freedom and equality that still challenges minorities today. Pueblo people were able to preserve their traditional way of life until the Spaniards returned seeking revenge years later. Ortiz wants to keep tradition alive at Cochiti, his pueblo located near Santa Fe, New Mexico. For pottery making, he uses traditional methods and gathers local clays and wild spinach for designs on pottery.


Ortiz’s storylines transport viewers back in time to the historical event and then flashes forward through time to the year 2180 when Pueblo people are once again embattled with enemies. For futuristic battles, Ortiz creates a new cast of imaginary heroes who are aided by their 1680 heroic ancestors. Futuristic superheroes include the Venutian Soldiers who have survived nuclear destruction of their homeland and are in search of a place to live. They are depicted in Ortiz’s mural in the Laurie Art Stairway marching along while wearing oxygen tanks and gas masks in order to stay alive.