It’s almost here. Indian country’s first-ever graffiti jam is just three weeks away, and it’s built incredible momentum. The Cheyenne River Youth Project® staff reports that acclaimed artists, valued supporters and friends will converge on Eagle Butte, South Dakota, from around the world.
The revolutionary arts event, titled RedCan, is scheduled for July 8-9 in Eagle Butte on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, where activities will take place in CRYP’s 5-acre Waniyetu Wowapi (“Winter Count”) Art Park and at select sites around the community. From there, artists will head west for a second RedCan event in Rapid City’s Art Alley.
Headline artists include East Foster from Denver (pictured here), Kazilla from Miami, Meme from southern California, Tyler “Siamese” Read from Rapid City, and Peyton Scott Russell, Biafra Inc. and Wundr from Minnesota’s Twin Cities. Also on hand will be a variety of native and non-native artists, hip-hop groups, native drum groups and native dancers.
According to Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, several of the featured artists have broadened their involvement beyond painting at RedCan.
“Peyton, Siamese and Biafra Inc. have been guest instructors for our first cohort of teen art interns,” she explained. “East has been a wonderful support for us. And Meme will present a special skateboard exhibition while she’s in Eagle Butte, so our youth are really looking forward to that.”
Meme is an internationally known street artist and founder of Few and Far Women, which just celebrated its fourth anniversary; the organization supports and promotes female participate in the graffiti art world. She also is a skateboarding enthusiast, and through her art and skateboarding, she works to connect with young people.
“It’s very exciting for us to have Few and Far coming to the Cheyenne River reservation and to CRYP,” Garreau noted. “It’s a big deal.”
The RedCan Graffiti Jam Skateboard Exhibition will take place on July 9-10 at the Eagle Butte Skateboard Park. On the first day, youth are invited to come to the Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park and, with the assistance of CRYP staff, paint their own skateboards using spray paint and stencils. Then, the young people will be able to take their newly personalized skateboards and participate in the exhibition with Meme, who will spend the morning teaching techniques and talking about personal development.
“We’re hoping to have a minimum of 100 skateboards available for her exhibition, so we’re seeking support to help us reach that goal,” Garreau said. “There’s still time to support this effort, and the entire RedCan event; simply make a donation through our website at lakotayouth.org or through our Crowdrise campaign.”
Internationally recognized graffiti artist Serval is doing his part to support the RedCan effort. He is creating a painting that will be on sale to support art programs for native youth and Indian country’s first graffiti jam.
The finished piece will be acrylics and 24K gold life on Epicea wood. Those who wish to reserve a print should contact East Foster at the Cypher Shop in Denver at 720-398-9727 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enthusiasts can view Serval’s work at www.silverblack.ch or on Instagram (@serval77).
Serval grew up in Switzerland, where he first got involved with graffiti as a young teenager. In the years since, he has left his mark across Europe and as far away as Australia and Thailand. He remains active in Europe today and paints large murals worldwide.
“We were just speechless when we heard that Serval wanted to do this to support RedCan and our youth art programming,” Garreau said. “We’re so grateful, and humbled, by the support we’re receiving from every corner.”
In addition to the artists, CRYP is welcoming supporters from around the country — and the world — to the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation for RedCan. Not only are former volunteers traveling from as far away as Ireland, the youth project also will welcome Seventh Generation Fund media director and accomplished videographer Mo Hollis from California, and professional commercial and editorial photographer Richard Steinberger from Colorado.
“Mo and Richard have been involved with CRYP for many years now, and we’re delighted that they’re volunteering their time and energy to cover this event for us,” Garreau said. “We’re also looking forward to welcoming members of the working press. RedCan is going to be a groundbreaking event for the Cheyenne River community.”
Garreau said she believes RedCan resonates with so many people because of art’s healing power.
“Many of the headline artists have told me that they credit graffiti and street art with turning their lives around, and they’re eager to connect with our young people and show them what’s possible,” she explained. “We’re already seeing amazing things happen in our art park, where parents are driving up to 80 miles each way to give their children a chance to paint in a free, public art space.
“Art can change lives for the better, giving young people an opportunity to express their life stories, their opinions and their own unique identities in a healthy way,” she added. “That means everything to us, because at its heart, CRYP is about healing — becoming whole.”
To support RedCan, click “Help CRYP” in the navigation bar above, then select “Monetary Donations,” and click the “Donate Now” button. Or, visit our Crowdrise campaign.
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.