June 28, 2010

Designer Profile | Virgil Ortiz

Designer Virgil Ortiz comes from a well-known family of potters, and his first form of artistic expression was in clay. He is an artist whose work defies easy definition: in addition to being a ceramicist, he is also a sculptor, jeweler, painter, and fashion designer.

“The thought has never crossed my mind to be anything other than an artist and fashion designer. Art is in my blood,” says Ortiz.

“I want to take Native fashion to the next level.”

In late 2002, New York designer Donna Karan attended the Santa Fe Indian Market and met Ortiz. The two collaborated to create a line that featured Karan’s silhouettes and Ortiz’s fabrics decorated with Pueblo designs, such as the wild spinach, water, clouds, and fertility symbols of the Southwest. With this collaboration, Ortiz’s pottery art morphed onto the figures of runway models and transformed into haute couture.

“The main difference in moving from clay to fabric,” Ortiz says, “was taking on a larger scale,” meaning his audience would be many and different from those who know his clay figures. Ortiz felt that taking traditional Pueblo symbols and printing them on nontraditional canvases would require adaptation so as not to lose their sense of origin. His designs are a captivating balance between the provocative, edgy, and traditional.

Visit Ortiz's website at virgilortiz.com