This month marks the kickoff of something new for us: the CRYP Hall of Fame. In this special section, we’re going to highlight a current CRYP participant or alum; this is exciting, because it gives us an opportunity to introduce our young people to you, our deeply valued friends and supporters.

Rather than choosing just one person this month, however, we’d like to introduce a remarkable group of young people. They are our first-ever art interns: John Chavez, 17, Justin Cook-Twite, 17, Jacine Carter, 16, Fentress Cromwell, 16, Tylaina Dupris, 14, Jaymalee Turning Heart, 14, Kellyn Circle Eagle, 14, Sappire Lucero, 13, Miranda Vines, 13, and Xandria Norris, 13.

The interns were selected through an extensive application and interview process. In additional to filling out an application form, they also were required to answer three questions in essay form and then participate in a formal interview.

“The interview process was designed to help them learn about and feel comfortable with a professional interview,” said Tammy Eagle Hunter, CRYP’s youth programs director. “We hosted a class the Friday before the interviews, which helped applicants understand what would be expected of them — how to dress, shake hands, deliver clear and confident answers, and more.” 

The teens also created a quick sketch and aerosol-paint piece. They were not scored on their skills and abilities in this exercise; CRYP staff simply were looking for confidence and pleasure in the creative process. 

“We also asked them questions about art and how expressing themselves through art effects them,” Eagle Hunter said. “We’re looking for passionate young artists, so we were excited to see so many young people speak about how art helps to soothe them, gives them an outlet, helps them make better choices, and clears their minds. We were inspired by these young people and where they believed art could take them, in terms of career but also and with emotional and mental health.”

Some applicants, like Justin Cook-Twite, spoke about artists CRYP staff had never heard of, and Eagle Hunter said she found herself searching for these artists online to learn more. She also noted that several interns felt inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and two teens had taken “Art of Creative Lettering” classes with accomplished Minneapolis-based graffiti artist and art instructor Peyton Scott Russell, who will return to Eagle Butte as a guest instructor in the new art internship program.

During their four-month art internship program, the 10 teen interns will participate in training opportunities, engage in open studio time, attend leadership development workshops, explore career opportunities for artists, plan community events to promote CRYP’s  Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park, and unveil their own work within that public space when it’s ready. The art interns must complete 80 hours of instruction during February, March, April and May to complete the program. Upon successful completion in May, they’ll each receive a $500 award for their time and commitment.    

Congratulations to the teens for their appointment to this special cohort, and in the months to come, we will look forward to sharing their accomplishments with you.