USD Celebrates 100th Birthday of Artist Oscar Howe With His Works on Tour

Image of artist Oscar Howe in his USD studio Oscar Howe at work in his USD studio.

VERMILLION, S.D. – USD is marking the 100th birthday of Native American Artist Oscar Howe today (May 13, 2015) with eight of his works on tour around the United States.

This fall the university plans a special exhibition of Howe’s works featuring more than 40 of the 100 paintings maintained at USD, which houses the largest collection of Howe’s work in the world.

“It is thrilling to see one of USD’s Oscar Howe paintings at the Metropolitan Museum,” said USD President James Abbott. “He was an outstanding artist who made enormous contributions to the evolution of Native American art.

“USD is proud to share Oscar Howe’s brilliance with the world, and we are honored to make his art more accessible to the public, both in South Dakota and world-wide,” Abbott said.

Howe’s 1962 work, “Calling On Wakan Tanka,” is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, part of an exhibition called “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky.” Earlier the same painting was shown in Paris and Kansas City.

Two other Howe paintings, “Ghost Dancer” from 1963 and “Eagle Dance” from 1960, are on display in the Denver Art Museum through next February.

Five Howe pieces will be shown at The Journey Museum in Rapid City from May 30-Sept. 7 this year, honoring the 100th anniversary of his birth. They include “War Dancer,” “Breaking a Wild Horse,” “Buffalo Hunter,” “Council,” and “War and Peace Dancer.”

Oscar Howe was born May 13, 1915, at Joe Creek on the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota, and showed artistic talent at a young age. After serving in World War II Howe earned a bachelor’s degree at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell and a master’s of fine art at the University of Oklahoma in 1954.

He became a professor of art at USD in 1957, and was named professor emeritus in 1980. He died in 1983 at the age of 68. Howe’s award-winning paintings and murals earned him the title of Artist Laureate of South Dakota. He was credited with influencing the development of contemporary art in the Indian community.

The College of Fine Arts at the University of South Dakota promotes research and educational projects in Native American art and sponsors the USD Summer Art Institute, the Oscar Howe Archive Project, The Oscar Howe Memorial Lecture and the Robert Penn Northern Plains Contemporary Indian Art Collection.

Howe’s work is on display year-around at the Oscar Howe Gallery in Old Main on the USD campus. The gallery is open 1-5 p.m. daily or by appointment. The larger Howe exhibition will be Sept. 15-Oct 16 in the John A. Day Gallery at the Warren M. Lee Center for Fine Arts at USD.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Michael Ewald
USD News