Back to the Future: Students Learn From Artist-In-Residence Virgil Ortiz
By: Miriam Brown ’21
Most students never meet or interact with artists whose work they study in class. But thanks to Colorado College’s artist-in-residence program, students in the classes Human/Being Anthropological Perspectives
and Southwest Arts and Culture learned about Virgil Ortiz’s art from Ortiz himself.
Ortiz, a Pueblo artist who lives in Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico, joined CC’s campus this fall as a Mellon Artist-in-Residence. His exhibit at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College titled “Revolution: Rise Against the Invasion” combines the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 with a sci-fi twist, imagining what the event might have looked like in the year 2180 to make it more accessible for the next generations.
For the first and second Wednesdays of Block 4, Ortiz met with Assistant Professor Scott Ingram’s anthropology class and Assistant Professor Karen Roybal’s Southwest studies class to teach them about his background, the revolt, and his art, including his FAC exhibit. In addition to these meetings, Ingram’s class met with Ortiz in Bemis School of Art on the third Wednesday of the block for an informal question and answer session, and students have had an open invitation to attend any of Ortiz’s studio hours.
“Virgil is one of the most open, kind people that I’ve ever met in my life,” said Cristina Garcia ’19, a Southwest studies and religion double major. “It’s amazing to see his enthusiasm about his work, and also the fact that he gives all the credit to his community and where he comes from. It’s amazing to see that he’s never forgotten that, [and] that he really expands people’s minds of what indigenous art looks like.”
As co-chair of the Native American Student Union, Garcia had met Ortiz twice before, at the FAC and even at Ortiz’s house for dinner. Other students reported that Ortiz gave them his personal email, invited them to his home back in New Mexico, and even sent copies of his work to a student who wanted to recreate them as drawings.
In the final meeting with Ingram’s class, students took turns thanking Ortiz for his honesty, patience, and humility in sharing his work and life with them.
“This time with you is more than just learning … [it’s] transformative,” Ingram said to Ortiz. “Rise Against the Invasion” is on view at the FAC now-Jan. 6.