February is an exciting month for the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Youth Arts & Culture Institute. Not only did the new winter cohort of teen art interns have the opportunity to learn from two accomplished artists in residence, the 2019-2020 Lakota Art Fellows are preparing to embark on a special arts field trip to Minneapolis.
During his one-week residence, Sioux Falls-based Zach Deboer worked with the teen art interns on a self-portrait project. His fellow artist in residence, Rapid City-based artist and Lakota culture bearer Jeremy Fields, taught an “Introduction to Beading” course that CRYP opened to all youth in the community.
“We received so many inquiries, we decided to make the course accessible to all of our community’s young people,” said Tyler Read, CRYP’s artistic director. “It was wonderful to see the kids so excited about this traditional Lakota art form, and to witness their creations take shape.”
Deboer, who came to CRYP through the South Dakota Arts Council, is a multidisciplinary artist who is focused on the field of creative placemaking. He owns Exposure Studios in Sioux Falls and currently serves as a member of the City of Sioux Falls’ Visual Arts Commission, AIGA:SD, the Minnehaha County Historical Society, and DTSF’s Placemaking Committee.
An Oklahoma native, Fields is a self-taught artist of Pawnee, Apsaalooké and Chickasaw ancestry, with culture serving as a primary influence to his creative endeavors. Having worked in multiple mediums throughout his career, his work spans the creative gamut, including beadwork, photography, painting and design.
Fields also is a well-known graffiti writer, using the name Sadat. He is noted for his affinity to style development and letter aesthetics, and he is a regular participant in CRYP’s annual RedCan invitational graffiti jam.
“We’re very fortunate at CRYP to have access to artists of this caliber,” Read said. “Not only do they provide our young people here on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation with priceless opportunities to develop their skill sets, they also offer valuable insights into what it takes to create successful careers in the arts.”
According to Read, February will be a big month for CRYP’s Lakota Art Fellows as well. Later this month, they will travel to Minneapolis to tour the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Walker Museum.
“It’s important for art students to broaden their perspectives, and having access to world-class institutions is one of the best ways to facilitate that,” Read explained. “We’re looking forward to introducing our Lakota Art Fellows to the Minneapolis art scene, and to see how this will influence their insight and creativity.”
CRYP launched its first-ever Lakota Art Fellowship program last year, welcoming Roberta High Elk, Emanual Semon, and Kailey Carter to its 2019-2020 cohort. Operated through the Waniyetu Wowapi Lakota Youth Arts & Culture Institute, this nine-month fellowship is designed for young people who have completed multiple teen art internships and have expressed interest in pursuing advanced arts education and eventually careers in the arts.
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.