The Cheyenne River Youth Project has announced that seven popular guest artists will be returning to Eagle Butte this summer for the award-winning RedCan invitational graffiti jam, and it expects to sign additional artists in the coming weeks. To date, East from Denver; Scribe from Kansas City, Missouri; Biafra, Wundr and Cyfi from the Twin Cities; Siamese from Rapid City; and Dwayno Insano from Salt River, Arizona, have all signed on for the fourth annual RedCan event, which is scheduled for July 28-30.
To help support this groundbreaking event, the only one of its kind in Indian Country, the nonprofit youth organization has received a highly competitive $10,000 Bush Foundation Event Sponsorship. The foundation dedicates these funds to select events that inspire, equip and connect people to think bigger and think differently about what’s possible in their communities; RedCan was a perfect fit.
“RedCan brings up to 10 professional graffiti and street artists from across the country to the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation, where they work alongside local Lakota artists and our youth in the Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Art Park and at mural sites throughout the city of Eagle Butte,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “In addition, we host art classes in conjunction with the First Peoples Fund’s Rolling Rez Arts program, cultural exhibitions, and live music and other performances.”
Each year, nearly 700 young people and community members of all ages participate in RedCan activities, which continue to bring Lakota culture and graffiti culture together in unexpected and inspiring ways. According to Garreau, RedCan has made a lasting impression on everyone involved, from community members to the artists themselves.
“This cultural exchange and arts festival lifts up everyone it touches,” she said. “Since we founded RedCan in 2015, our guest artists have told us they continue to be profoundly moved by the experience of creating art here on Cheyenne River,” she said. “That’s why so many of them return year after year—to teach our young people, collaborate with our local artists, engage with our community members, and connect with the vibrant energy here.
“We’ve also discovered that our community feels a sense of pride and ownership in the work that comes out of RedCan,” she continued. “Each year, we see an interesting mix of sadness and excitement when a mural is buffed to make way for something new. And as those new murals take their place in our community, they’re both inspiring and transformative.”
Graffiti jams were designed to introduce graffiti as an art form, bringing together people who exemplify the contemporary graffiti art movement and how it has evolved since its inception a half century ago. When they attend jams, artists seek to establish themselves within this global movement. RedCan, however, is different.
“As one of our lead artists said to me, it’s a collaborative effort rather than a selfish one,” Garreau explained. “Not only are they showcasing the graffiti art movement, they’re connecting that world with our indigenous one, allowing Lakota artists to infuse graffiti with their own culture, identities and stories.
“As Lakota people, art is part of who we are,” she added. “Art is life. We have always been storytellers, and through RedCan, our young people can strengthen their connection to Lakota culture and values as they share their own stories. Along the way, they have the powerful opportunity to explore their identities, find their own unique voices, and express themselves in a positive, healthy way.”
For information about the Bush Foundation and its event sponsorships, visit www.bushfoundation.org.
And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook (/LakotaYouth), Twitter (@LakotaYouth) and Instagram (@waniyetuwowapi).
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.