South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation comprises two of the poorest counties in the United States, yet it is imaginably rich with the strong, beautiful, enduring Lakota culture. In a sense, Lakota culture and graffiti culture have much in common — graffiti culture also has proven to be so powerful that the poverty in which it has been immersed cannot hold it back.
These two worlds will collide for the first time this summer at RedCan, Indian country’s first-ever graffiti jam. The event will take place on July 8-9 in CRYP’s Waniyetu Wowapi (“Winter Count”) Art Park in Eagle Butte and on July 11 at Art Alley in Rapid City. And the 26-year-old, not-for-profit, grassroots youth project has launched a Crowdrise campaign to help raise funds.
CRYP also is working closely with featured artists to provide special incentives for Crowdrise donors. All donors will receive vinyl sticker packs courtesy of Siamese. Those donating $30 or more will receive an 11×17 copy of the RedCan Poster, signed by the headlining artists. For $50, donors will receive an empty paint can signed by a headlining artist. And donors who contribute $75 or more will receive a screen print of work created by Biafra.
At press time, Denver-based graffiti artist East announced that he also is planning to contribute to the Crowdrise incentive program. For a $200 donation, he is offering a copy of the new DF crew book, “Decaying Future.” Its 170+ full-color pages feature rare artwork and exclusive photography. Each book from the drive will come with a sticker pack and signatures from various DF crew members, along with a full-page custom drawing on the inside cover by East.
All Crowdrise funds will be used for paint, art supplies, food and beverages, as well as to help cover the artists’ travel expenses.
Because the artists are coming. Acclaimed graffiti writers from around the country will converge on this remote, 2.8-million-acre reservation to paint alongside local artists, community members and youth. Daesk, Kazilla (pictured here), Meme and Wundr also will be attending RedCan, along with Siamese, Biafra and East.
According to Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, RedCan is part of a larger initiative that began with the Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park, an innovative, free, public art space that is dedicated to graffiti, street art and traditional Lakota painting..
“It all goes back to our youth,” she explained. “People tell me all the time how revolutionary this art park and our art internship program are. That’s exciting, but even more exciting is that we are revolutionaries for the sakes of our children. It’s without ego. We’re breaking new ground for our kids, and for the future of our people, our community and our great Lakota nation.
“Some people may not see it this way, but graffiti art and street art fit beautifully in our tradition,” she continued. “These art forms allow us to fully express ourselves and tell our stories publicly. We may be doing it on shipping containers, walls and cement structures instead of on buffalo hides, but that makes the art park our contemporary Winter Count.”
Not only will RedCan attract visitors to Eagle Butte and provide a firsthand look at what is now the largest and longest-running art movement in the history of man, it will allow featured artists to show off their various techniques and styles. Community members and guests will have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to get an inside look at the contemporary graffiti movement and how it has evolved over the last 50 years.
“RedCan will mean so much for our community,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director and event co-organizer, along with Siamese and Peyton. “It will bring together generations and cultures, and it will shine a light on our Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park. We created this space so that others may thrive. It’s just another one of CRYP’s heart-driven initiatives — a convergence of people, hearts, minds and talents that is beyond beautiful. It’s paradigm-shifting.
“We always intended the art park to be a gathering place and creative outlet where positive self-expression, storytelling, reconciliation and healing takes place for all,” she continued. “RedCan is giving us an unparalleled opportunity to see that vision come to life.”
Also on hand for RedCan will be a variety of hip-hop groups, native drum groups and native dancers, ensuring that the event will be a memorable one for people of all ages and all walks of life. “ Siamese once said to me that, in the future, he hopes to be looking through books about graffiti art and read about the great emergence of contemporary Lakota artists because of what we are doing here,” Garreau said. “That was powerful and touching to me. What’s even more poignant is seeing how an entire art world is rallying around our efforts here on Cheyenne River, coming together to support our children.”
To reach jam organizers, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To contribute to the Crowdrise campaign, click here.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.