The Cheyenne River Youth Project announced today that Tyler Read joined its full-time staff as art director on Sept. 3. In his new role, Read will oversee programming at the nonprofit youth organization’s Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Youth Arts & Culture Institute.
“As a teaching artist who has been working with CRYP since 2015, I’ve seen the impact its arts programming has had on the Cheyenne River community on several levels, the most exciting of which is how today’s students have a more intuitive understanding of art’s technical aspects,” Read said. “I think it’s because they are immersed in it. They’re growing up surrounded by large public murals, and their minds are constantly breaking down the different aspects of those murals. That gives them a more developed sense of art and technique, and it makes Cheyenne River different than other places I’ve taught.
“Years ago, I remember telling Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, that I dreamed of one day being able to open art history books and read about a great emergence of Lakota murals that began here,” he continued. “Now I see it actually happening, and I’m deeply honored that I will have the opportunity to know this piece of history—not just by pictures in a book, but by the faces of the young people who are leading this movement.”
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Read began exploring graffiti art and culture in Seattle in the early 1990s. After moving to Rapid City, South Dakota, in 2004, he became a fixture in the downtown public art space known as Art Alley. Eventually, he became the lead facilitator of the space on behalf of the Rapid City Arts Council, for whom he served as the community engagement coordinator for seven years. During his artistic career, Read—who also goes by the writer name Siamese—has been dedicated to developing innovative programming designed to attract teens, young adults and at-risk youth through street art and pop culture.
Read has received fellowships from the Creative Community Leadership Institute and OTA Builders, and in 2017, he was awarded a Bush Foundation Fellowship to continue his work in developing and supporting public art spaces in tribal communities. He has collaborated on projects with The Rapid City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Rapid City Juvenile Diversion Programs, Americans For The Arts, and “The Hero Effect,” an Oprah Winfrey Network television program. In addition, Read served as the programming chair for the American Advertising Federation of the Black Hills and took part in the Rapid City Police Department’s Community Advisory Committee.
In the last few years, Read also has been an active member of CRYP’s strategic planning committee and advisory council. Cheyenne River youth are well-acquainted with him as a guest art instructor, and he also was involved in the development of CRYP’s free, public Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park and its award-winning RedCan invitational graffiti jam, the only event of its kind in Indian Country.
“My involvement with the art park and RedCan helped me realize the true potential of empowering people and communities through graffiti art,” he said. “I’m so excited about this.”
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or visit lakotayouth.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 (@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.