the Governor's Arts Award Winners

Virgil Ortiz

Cochiti Pueblo

2015 recipient, Individual Artist

Hailing from a family of celebrated Cochiti Pueblo artists, Virgil Ortiz says it never crossed his mind to be anything other than an artist. "Art is in my blood," said Ortiz, 46, the youngest of six children, who grew up in a creative environment in which storytelling, collecting clay, gathering wild plants, and producing figurative pottery were part of his everyday life. "I have something very important to do before I go. I want to preserve my culture and inspire our youth to accomplish whatever it is they dream to be." His grandmother Laurencita Herrera and his mother, Seferina Ortiz, were both renowned Pueblo potters. "Having known Virgil Ortiz for over a decade, I have seen him grow into one of the most significant artists in New Mexico," said nominator Garth Clark, Editor-in-Chief of CFile Foundation and one of the most renowned authorities in the world on ceramic arts. "His ceramic sculptures and pottery have moved Native pottery forward and his other designs in clothing and furnishings show just how prolific he is at his art," Clark said. U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan said Ortiz should be honored not only for his significant artistic contributions but for his dedication to youth and children. "When a special artist comes into our lives with a willingness to share their heart and soul, able to share a piece of themselves through the magic that flows through them, all while not forgetting to mentor others, we have the responsibility to recognize them for making New Mexico even more special than she already is. Virgil Ortiz is one of those artists," Lujan said. "From his pottery in a clay medium, to live canvasses that breathe inspiration, to fashion collaborations with Donna Karan, his art has moved people and inspired a new generation to tell the stories that have lived here for generations."