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Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute

Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute takes place June 7 - 19, 2015.

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Oscar Howe's artwork is a treasure and the University of South Dakota is pleased to have the opportunity to share his work with the next generation of artists during the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute (OHSAI), June 7-19, 2015.  The Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute (OHSAI) is open to high school students with a demonstrated interest in the visual arts and American Indian culture.  The Institute provides workshops for a group of talented and committed high school art students to learn about contemporary Native American Fine Arts with a focus on Native American culture, history and traditions.  All courses are taught by impressive professional artists and all accepted students attend free of charge, including meals, housing, instruction and art supplies. 


The OHSAI honors long time University of South Dakota Professor and American Indian Northern Plains Artist, Oscar Howe by helping educate the next generation of potential Native American artists.  Howe established a summer art institute in the 1960's, which provided instruction to avid students desiring to learn more about Native American art.  Although this institute only lasted a few years, the spirit inspired the current form of the OHSAI.  To date, the institute has supported many students who have gone on to become professional artists.


The OHSAI is open to high school students' grades 10-12, with a demonstrated talent in the visual arts and strong interest in Indian culture.  Participants are selected based upon an application, at least one letter of reference, and a portfolio of their artwork.  Special attention is given to applications from Native American students.


Community is a big part of the OHSAI, offering students both professional contacts and long time friendships.  Enrollment in the Institute is limited20 high school students, who participate in drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, cultural studies and art history classes. . They work with professional Northern Plains artists and instructors, such as Don Montileaux, Roger Broer, Bunky Echo-Hawk and Marwin Begaye, who provide cultural insight to the importance of the visual arts.   These classes make up the basis of the institute, and students are afforded several hours each day to concentrate on their own assignments and explore the specified media and subject matter. Participants also work together on group projects such as murals, limited edition prints and posters.

The USD Campus Experience

While at The University of South Dakota, OHSAI students work in the modern, professional art studios of the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts.  Students have access to Art Department equipment and a wide variety of art materials as well as the other resources of a major university.  In addition, Institute participants enjoy field trips to area museums and cultural facilities.

A celebration of Art, Accomplishment, and a New Beginning

For many students, the OHSAI is a life‐changing event. It is their first glimpse into an artistic future, embedded in the essential art and culture of their communities. To celebrate, the finale of each institute is marked by an honoring ceremony, gallery exhibition, and sales of works the students have created. The ceremony attracts over 100 attendees, including the families of the students, faculty and staff, the local community and often Oscar Howe's family. In many ways, it is a commencement – new possibilities emerging from tradition.

How to Apply

All application materials are due by March 1, 2015.  Applications must include:
  1. Registration form, containing the students name and contact information and a statement of why you would like to attend the OHSAI.
  2. Letter of Reference from an instructor, artist or other interested party, addressing why the nominee should be accepted into the Institute.
  3. Portfolio of Artwork, consisting of 15 images of the student's artwork.  Preferred method is to send a CD of the students work in jpg format at the highest resolution possible.

For more information or to apply to this year's Institute please contact:

  • Cory Knedler
    Department of Art
    The University of South Dakota
    414 E. Clark Street Vermillion, SD 57069

Housing and Meals

Students will be housed in air-conditioned residence halls located on the USD campus. Students may check into their rooms after completing the institute registration on Sunday. No landline phone service is provided in the residence halls, however cell phones are permitted and rooms have wireless access. Students receive keys to their room and have a roommate. Students should bring sheets (extra-long twin), blankets, pillows, towels for showering, alarm clocks, and a jacket. 

Students are provided three meals daily through the University cafeteria, beginning with dinner on Sunday evening and continuing through lunch on Friday.

Student Exhibition

Students will present their work in a final exhibition on Friday, June 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the John A. Day Gallery in the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts. The exhibition is free and open to the public. Parents and family are encouraged to attend.

OHSAI Schedule

Sunday, June 7
3 - 5 p.m. Students arrive and come directly to the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts. 

Students will be given directions about checking into the Residence Hall.

6 p.m.
Dinner with Institute Staff in Fine Arts

Families invited to attend at W.H. Over Museum

Following Dinner, welcome, orientation and Blessing of the Institute

Monday, June 8 through Friday, June 12
7:30 – 8:30 a.m.   Breakfast served weekdays 
9 - 11 a.m.  Drawing Class 
11 - 11:45 a.m.  Cultural and Art History presentations
11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Lunch
1 - 4:45 p.m. Art Class 
5 – 5:45 p.m. Dinner
6 - 10 p.m. Painting Studio
10 p.m. Return to residence hall
Saturday, June 13 & Sunday, June 14 
SaturdayField trip to Joslyn Art Museum and other sites in Omaha. 
SundayStudios open from noon to 5 p.m. for students to work on art projects, Matinee Movie.   
Monday, June 15 through Thursday, June 18
7:30 – 8:30 a.m.   Breakfast
9 - 11 a.m.  Drawing Class 
11 - 11:45 a.m.  Presentations on American Indian Art History
11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Lunch
1 - 4:45 p.m. Art Class 
5 – 5:30 p.m. Dinner
6 - 10 p.m. Painting Studio
10 p.m. Return to residence hall
Friday, June 19 
9 - 10 a.m. Closing Critiques 
11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Luncheon Reception & Exhibition Sale for Oscar Howe participants, families and the public.
1 p.m. Students depart from Vermillion 

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OHSAI Drawing
OHSAI Screen Print
OHSAI Screen Print
OHSAI Broer Print Demo
OHSAI Statue