This year, CRYP launched its first-ever Lakota Arts Fellowship program. Operated through the Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Youth Arts & Culture Institute, this nine-month fellowship is designed for young people who have completed multiple teen arts internships and have expressed interest in pursuing advanced arts education and eventually careers in the arts.

Introducing our 2019-2020 Lakota Arts Fellows (pictured from left to right): Roberta High Elk, Kailey Carter, and Emanual Semon.

Roberta High Elk says her relationship with art began in fourth grade, when she found herself drawing frequently and with intent. She has completed several art internships at CRYP, she is a participating artist in CRYP’s annual RedCan invitational graffiti jam, and she strives to make art that feels “monumental” to the viewer. 

Roberta is interested in professional art sales and teaching, and she says will use the Lakota Arts Fellowship to explore her options for the future. These days, when she’s not making art, Roberta enjoys band, volleyball, Destination Imagination and cheerleading.

Like Roberta, Emanual Semon has participated in multiple teen art internships through CRYP and its Waniyetu Wowapi Lakota Youth Arts & Culture Institute. Emanual has gained valuable experience in videography, photography and other art mediums; through the fellowship, he says he hopes to learn new art forms and techniques. He also would like to learn how he can best combine his interests with videography and illustrations to make a future career path for himself.

Kailey Carter was selected for the Lakota Arts Fellowship because of the skills she displayed through the teen art internship program. She says she started her art journey when she was very young, constantly finding new inspiration for drawing. Although she never received formal instruction, Kailey continued building her skill set through pictures and comparison. She says she was so interested in art and sketching, she would sometimes draw instead of work. 

“Now, I don’t have time to draw anymore in school, so that’s why I’m glad I’m in the art fellowship to further improve my art skills,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to go to art college. The fellowship will help me prepare for that, and for selling my artwork in the future. I’m so grateful for the opportunity.”

At press time, the three fellows were in Gallup, New Mexico, for the Intertribal Youth Leadership Summit organized by Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE), the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, and La Casa Roja. The summit’s purpose is to connect youth leaders through interactive discussions on critical issues, hands-on workshops to build skills and self-expression, and networking to spark youth-led solutions in their communities. 

The 2019-20 Lakota Art Fellowship began on Oct. 1, and it will conclude on June 30, 2020.