On Labor Day weekend, the Cheyenne River Youth Project officially graduated 11 Lakota teens from its summer arts internship program. This is a record-breaking number for the nonprofit youth organization, which began offering teen internships in 2013.
“Normally, we see five or six kids complete the full arts internship track,” said Jerica Widow, CRYP’s youth programs director. “This time, we doubled that number. It’s incredible.”
Not only did the teens complete their internships, they also had an opportunity to exhibit their artwork at the annual Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Powwow, Fair & Rodeo in Eagle Butte. Two of the young artists, Roberta High Elk and Roslyn Smith, took third and fourth place.
“We’re so proud of them,” Widow said. “It’s always a good experience to prepare for and participate in a formal art show, but we were thrilled to see them also receive this special recognition. It’s a milestone for them, absolutely.”
Cheyenne River teens who are interested in pursuing arts education at CRYP’s Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Youth Arts & Culture Institute must first take an Art Basics course that serves as a prerequisite for the full arts internship. Once they complete the course, they’re eligible to apply to become an intern.
During the internship, teens learn graffiti art, digital arts, traditional arts, sculpture and pottery, stenciling, graphic arts and screen printing. In addition, they have opportunities to learn more about the business side of art, with classes that include public speaking, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and merchandising; and they explore the impact of public art and discover how art can foster healing in communities.
“The teen arts internship incorporates a variety of opportunities for our young people to explore the creative process, create pieces that represent who they are and share their stories, and ultimately exhibit their work in a public showcase,” explained Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We also give them opportunities to travel to important sites related to Lakota culture and to the arts.”
This summer, the art interns visited Wind Cave National Park. They also traveled to Hill City and Rapid City to tour the communities’ art museums.
CRYP is currently accepting applications for the fall art internship, which will run from Sept. 16 to Oct. 18. It’s open to young people ages 13-18, who can expect to log 50 hours working in various mediums and participating in core job skills trainings.
To stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook (/LakotaYouth), Twitter (@LakotaYouth) and Instagram (@lakotayouth and @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.