In less than two months, the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation will be ground zero for the 9th annual RedCan invitational graffiti jam, the first and only event of its kind in Indian Country. RedCan is scheduled for July 5-8 and is open to the public.
Today, the Cheyenne River Youth Project announced the names of the 12 featured artists who will paint murals around the Eagle Butte community on July 5-6 and in CRYP’s public Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Art Park on July 7-8. The grassroots, Native- and woman-led nonprofit organization also unveiled a short film about the RedCan project titled “Changing the Narrative.”
“Five of our 2022 featured artists were Native women, and all five are returning this year,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We are excited to amplify their voices, perspectives and gifts through this little film, just as we are honored to welcome them back to Cheyenne River for four more days of creation, connection, cultural exchange, and the healing, transformative power of art.”
Those artists are 179, Lucious, Rezmo, TamiJoy and Yukue. Also part of the Redcan 2023 lineup are East, Cyfi, Hoka, Biafra, Wundr, Lawst and Desi Mundo.
During the four painting days, each artist will work closely with a CRYP Lakota Art Fellow or teen intern. These young Lakota art students will be able to learn new skills and practice new techniques as they assist the artists.
“This mentorship is a vital part of RedCan,” Garreau explained. “Not only does it bring Native and non-Native artists from across the country to our homelands, giving our community members a priceless opportunity to engage with the largest art movement in the history of humankind, it also gives our young people opportunities to explore their identities, share their voices and stories, and grow as artists.”
“I’m excited that even more teens are interested in participating in RedCan this year,” said Wakinyan Chief, CRYP’s art manager. “One of our programs assistant trainees completed several teen internships with us, and he’s heading into his third RedCan. Every couple of weeks, he tells me how much he’s looking forward to this summer’s event.”
Most of the featured artists have participated in multiple RedCans, as well; in fact, some have participated since the inaugural event in 2015. According to Garreau, that has deepened the RedCan experience in ways that she and her staff couldn’t have anticipated in the beginning.
“We’ve seen lifelong friendships develop, and the artists often refer to RedCan as a family,” she said. “That is profoundly moving to all of us at CRYP, because relationships lie at the heart of everything we do. And as we strengthen the bonds between us, we also see beautiful collaborative work develop — particularly between our guest artists, local Cheyenne River artists, and our young art students. It’s such an honor to witness this unfold year after year.”
While the artists paint in the community, CRYP and its volunteers will host youth arts, crafts and recreational activities at dedicated community sites. Then, when the artists move to the art park, the action moves with them.
“In the past, our two days in the art park have included DJ music, Lakota exhibition dancing, field day games, arts activities, hoop-dancing classes, and so much more,” said Jerica Widow, CRYP’s programs director. “It’s a joy to see the kids learning and having fun while family members and guests stroll through the park, enjoy the music and dancing, and watch the artists work.”
Community members also frequently gather at the mural sites in town, and not just the new ones. Garreau noted that, last year, CRYP staff witnessed people stopping at the older murals as well and discussing the details of the artwork with their companions.
“Our community really has embraced RedCan,” she reflected. “Throughout each year, as we drive or walk around town, we see all of this art — literally hundreds of murals since RedCan began — that uplifts us and reflects who we are as Lakota people. It is really powerful.
“For me, it’s a centering point,” she continued. “That’s so important, because the work we do here can be really challenging.”
On Friday and Saturday, July 7-8, CRYP will close each painting day in the art park with a free community meal and special performance on the Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park stage. Cheyenne River Lakota and Crow Creek Dakota rap artist, producer and sound designer Bazille will perform Friday night.
The Wake Singers, an Olgala Lakota rock band comprising cousins Douglas, Michael and Reed Two Bulls, will take the stage on Saturday. And, as always, the Cheyenne River-based Wakinyan Maza drum group will open and close each day of RedCan with a prayer, smudging and drum song for all who wish to participate.
CRYP will share more specific details about this year’s youth activities, community meals, and special performances in June. In the meantime, to view the new “Changing the Narrative” short film, visit CRYP on Vimeo at vimeo.com/lakotayouth (direct link: https://vimeo.com/793015587).
To learn more about this year’s RedCan artists and performers, and to make a tax-deductible contribution to support RedCan 2023, visit www.lakotayouth.org/redcan. All proceeds will be used to purchase paint, artist supplies, food and beverages, and to help cover the artists’ travel expenses.
And 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 www.lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
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.