Cruz Ortiz: One Hundred Años

April 06 - May 04, 2019

100 AÑOS
A glimpse into the ‘neophyte series’

Most of my work communicates within a romantic structure. Voices within some of the works convey a desire for the ‘one we love’ who is unreachable, other works might present the sincerity of truth in a pleinair painting, a live portrait painting, or a still-life. It is within these truths and narratives, using the application of paint onto surfaces, that I want to build my works into the beauty of a romantic resistance.

I am a lover and a fighter. Painting brings me in– like being in love. As I engage these surfaces, there is a constant exchange between reality and the reflection of that reality. Painting is real, and in these times it is becoming more important to fall into something that I can count on, a true love.

I am a DREAMER and it is something that has been part of my existence for generations. When I make work I have a deep understanding for my place in time. I understand what it means to be part of a society that was created by conquest, conversions, and ‘illusions of inclusion’. And as I jump in and out of boxes I realize this as process or the journey. Only the journey never really ends. So then as I create works they are presented as moments in time, or moments with this vision quest. Each work is a translation of a narrative that I want to place in our timeline.

The ‘neophyte series’ encompasses most of the issues that reveal themselves through the construction of my works. In Texas, bands of colonial ‘explorers’ came into contact with native peoples, as they established colonies. It was these missions that needed slave labor to produce the promise under ‘inter caetera’. To colonize, convert, and enslave went beyond those first years. Today we still see the presence of the colonization process and as truth becomes negotiated once again, it seems imperative to study the historical response to forced colonization. But there are few to no records of a detailed native response to the first contacts or to conversions. The ‘neophyte series’ is intended to fill that gap.

In Texas there are spotty historical accounts of natives taking years to convert. It was not uncommon for neophytes to reject conversion and go back to their tribes, only to be hunted down and dragged back to complete the conversion process. There are stories of raids but never any real details of who led the raids. There is also documentation of failed missions but again never any full story that explains the truthful reason. The ‘neophyte series’ uses these chopped up stories to create possible tangible moments.

These works take into account the historical research of Texas land and peoples, of my documentation of current climate changing Texas landscapes, and the various political figures and personal people in my life that sit for live portrait sessions.

Another element into the content development has been the reliance of incorporating myself and my wife into these stories. This of course has been influenced by several art historical references including Pierre Bonnard’s use of self-portraiture and the inclusion of his life partner Marthe. These then become narratives of truths that help me define missing elements of my story. It’s about presenting truth by creating narratives that lead us to analyze current social political realities.