he American Revolution was not the first war on American soil to throw off an oppressive foreign government. In 1680, Po’pay of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo organized the Pueblo Revolt. After conferring with leaders from other pueblos in the region, Po’pay sent out runners with knotted cords, one knot for each day until the revolt was to begin. After 11 days of conflict, the Pueblo people drove 2,000 Spanish settlers out of present-day New Mexico, across the Mexican border. They held the territory independently for 12 years.
“Even in New Mexico, where it happened, a lot of people don’t know about it,” says artist Virgil Ortiz. “When I do shows in Prague or Amsterdam or Paris, all the Europeans know exactly what I’m talking about. They know our history more than Americans do. It’s... embarrassing.”
Ortiz hails from New Mexico’s Cochiti Pueblo, which took part in the revolution. He wants to teach people about the revolt, and to keep his people’s culture alive.
@ Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College
30 W. Dale St.
When: Through Jan. 6, 2019
To do it, he’s taking leads from The Avengers
and Star Wars
and has been working on a high-gloss sci-fi retelling of the story. He’s titled the long-in-progress narrative Revolt 1680/2180
. And starting on Oct. 6, he’ll show selections, costuming and behind-the-scenes content from Revolt
at an exhibition at the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. The multimedia experience features stills and clips from the project, murals and physical objects.
Showing at the FAC gives him a unique opportunity to contextualize the narrative, too. The exhibit will juxtapose selections from the museum’s deep collection of Spanish colonial art with Ortiz’s own traditionally made Cochiti pottery. While creation of that pottery’s not as widespread as it was, it’s still being practiced, still alive.
“The heart and soul of everything I do is the traditional work,” he says. “I [want to] keep that going while I’m telling the story of the Pueblo Revolt. That’s my goal: to cultivate, revive, educate.”