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Ricardo Ortiz

Ricardo Ortiz was born, reared, and currently lives in San Felipe Pueblo. He is the son of Frank Ortiz and Vanencia Montaño Ortiz and grandson of Lorenzo and Candelaria Montaño. He is married to Victoria Ortiz and has six children and nine grandchildren.

Ricardo Ortiz
Courtesy School for Advanced Research. Photograph by Jason S. Ordaz.

Pottery making is Ricardo’s livelihood in addition to silversmithing and jewelry making. He started out working in pottery by painting designs on his mother’s and his grandmother’s pots. Although he learned the designs from his mother, he had to acquire pottery-making skills on his own through trial and error. Ricardo notes, “What I learned from my grandma and also my parents was that the tradition of pottery was one of importance back then, and still [is] now, because a lot of traditional cultures deal with a lot of pottery.”

Ricardo Ortiz speaks about the importance of pottery in his community, San Felipe Pueblo.

When creating pottery, Ricardo explains that one must talk with and respect the clay. The form of the pottery is often determined by the clay itself. Like many potters, he finds pottery making to be a deeply personal and often emotional practice.

I was taught from both the grandparents and my parents that [making pottery] can emotionally get to you. If you’re not strong, don’t bother. Leave it alone. Because there’s so many things that … I mean, you work hard to do the pottery, and maybe at the very end it might not come out like how you expect and that, emotionally, can get to you and hurt your feelings. It’s just like dropping that pot, and that could happen to you easily. So you have to be emotionally strong and emotionally fit.

The work Ricardo creates reflects the traditional style of art incorporating effigy designs. Each piece and design is representative of motivation, strength, prosperity, and family unity. His inspiration comes from his grandparents, his mother, and his desire to revive the art of traditional pottery at San Felipe. Ricardo won a first place award in the 2008 Heard Indian Market for a figurative double spouted water jar. Queen Elizabeth has the honor of having one of his mother’s pots in her collection.

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