On April 18-20, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® welcomed the First Peoples Funds’ Rolling Rez Arts mobile unit to the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation. Visiting artist Wade Patton and First Peoples Fund Coordinator Bryan Parker spent three evenings with the nonprofit youth organization’s teen arts interns, providing valuable instruction in multiple mediums.
On the first evening, the interns cut up pages from a ledger book and constructed a collage. Then, they either painted or used pastels to create unique visuals incorporating the ledger paper.
“The teens blended old ledger paper with contemporary images and ideas,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “It was fascinating to see the beautiful and interesting ways they bridged the gap between the old and the new.”
“I liked using old ledger paper, which was made in 1928,” said intern Genevieve Iron Lightning. “I wanted to take some home!”
On the second and third evenings, the instructors gave the interns the choice: to work with pastels to create original artwork, or to finish their ledger projects. They encouraged the young people to use any type of medium they liked, from acrylic paints and pastels to markers and colored pencils. Many interns chose to complete both types of projects.
“The teens were very focused on completing their projects, and they asked a lot of questions,” Garreau noted. “The Rolling Rez Arts visit was a wonderful opportunity for them to learn, experiment with new mediums and techniques, and explore their creativity.”
Patton also told the interns about a U.S. Department of the Interior art contest with the theme “We Are Still Here,” which he highly recommended. As a result, young artists Dawnelle Garter and Daniel Semon, will be entering their oil pastel pieces.
“I’m excited to work with the oil pastels,” Garter said. “They’re my favorite. I like the way they feel, and it’s relaxing to blend the colors.”
Intern Sunni Dupris enjoyed working with the oil pastels as well. “I liked it just as much as spray painting,” she reported.
Finally, the interns had the opportunity to see the inside of the Rolling Rez Arts bus and learn more about how this innovative mobile unit serves native communities.
“Bryan led us on a tour of the bus and explained how it takes art to communities that don’t have access to arts events locally—or access to the transportation they would need to travel to such events,” Garreau said. “He also explained how the Rolling Rez Arts bus serves as a mobile banking unit twice each month; and once a month, it travels to outlying communities to buy art from local artists, help them promote their work, and support them in gaining entrepreneurial experience.”
Rolling Rez Arts made its first appearance on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in fall 2015. Its mission is to deliver art, business, retail and banking services that, until now, have been inaccessible to many of the artists and culture bearers who live and work in these remote reservation areas.
The mobile art space was made possible by First Peoples Fund, Artspace, Lakota Funds, Lakota Federal Credit Union, and a variety of nonprofit partners and foundation supporters. All were dedicated to infusing new energy into the creative economy in native communities.
CRYP will welcome Rolling Rez Arts back to its Eagle Butte campus in late June for the third annual RedCan graffiti jam, which is scheduled for June 29-July 1 this year.
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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.