Profile amish 2

Gabriel Ortiz



In my 1992 work “Imitators of Christ '', I presented viewers with a carnival cut-out of the crucified Christ that allowed anyone to play him on the cross. When I first posed the question to the public of what it might mean to imitate Christ, I was speculating on our relationship to human suffering. Only much later did I learn that the painted carnival prop with the live head target came from the African Dodger game, a public torture device invented in the 19th century to humiliate Black people. By blending the Roman Catholic crucifixion with the Jim Crow carnival prop, I wound up referencing a little-known racist trope, conflating Christ's crucifixion with an episode in Black history.

What followed in February 2020 was my effort to put that first piece into its proper context. I created “The Slaving Cross (8/18/1518)”, which is a school crucifix dipped in navy pitch about the ancient document that opened the transatlantic slave trade. “Christ of Dixie” is a memorial to a Confederate atrocity committed in the Fort Pillow Massacre of 1864, where United States Colored Troops were nailed to trees or planks and set on fire. These are some examples of how my first foray into conceptual art grew-31 years later-into an archaeological dig.


1958, born, San Juan, PR

1981, ATh/Way College of Emporia, KS

1993 Mentor Exhibition, SMC

1992, LACE, “Issue of Choice”

1995, LA Juried Exhibition

1996 ACCD, Pasadena, CA, BFA/ Painting

2004 “Destiny Games”, Sprout Studios

2006 “Defining Marriage”, 2nd City Council, LB, CA

2014 “The Environment”, dA Center for the Arts, Pomona

2018 “Queer”, Ace/121 Glendale

2019 “Glendale Out”, Ace/121 Glendale

2019 LA Art Show