Howe, a Yanktonai Dakota artist who is credited with influencing contemporary Native American art, established the original art institute in 1961 and led it until 1972. The OHSAI as it’s known today began in 1991 under the supervision of Robert “Bobby” Penn and former College of Fine Arts Dean John Day. Since then, over 500 students have attended the institute.

“The institute’s mission is to teach Native American youth about the importance of their art and culture,” said Cory Knedler, chair of the Department of Art. “The OHSAI stands alone as the repository for furthering the philosophies and works of modern American Indian artist Oscar Howe by educating the next generation of Native American artists in technical studio classes and encouraging them to attend universities.”

Howe began the original institute to teach Native American art that was not covered in traditional high school or college classes. Penn and Day decided to continue the institute’s mission, offering an incredibly unique opportunity for high school students to study art and get a glimpse of college life at USD. Today, the OHSAI is open to 10th-12th grade students who demonstrate talent in the visual arts and a strong interest in American Indian Culture.

Twenty students will attend this summer’s institute, scheduled for June 4-11 at the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts on USD’s campus. The participants will attend studio classes, learn alongside talented artists, hear from guest speakers and more. In addition, OHSAI students have the opportunity to attend the opening of "Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howe" at the South Dakota Art Museum on June 10.

Students will take drawing classes every morning with Joe Williams (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyateis), a storyboard artist working in both digital and analog drawing formats. Williams attended the OHSAI as a high school student, returning to serve as a counselor and instructor for the institute over the years.

Gerald Cournoyer (Oglala Sioux Tribe) will also teach sessions of gouache painting at the institute. Cournoyer has blended his cultural and artistic backgrounds to connect with his students throughout his 30-year career, serving as the director of the OHSAI in the late 1990s to the early 2000s.

Guest speakers for this year’s institute – in addition to Williams and Cournoyer – include Roger Broer, an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Nation who has exhibited in more than 300 solo and group exhibitions and received over 50 awards during his career, and Inge Dawn (Howe) Maresh, the daughter of Oscar Howe who will lead a panel discussion to celebrate the opening of "Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howe."

At the institute, students will also receive mentorship from counselors, all of whom have attended the institute themselves as students. This year’s counselors include fourth-year counselors Kaitlyn Jones, a Diné artist from New Mexico, and Tylar Larsen, Bdewakantunwan Dakota from Cansayapi and recent USD graduate; and first-year counselors Goldiawna Haukass, Sicangu Lakota Oyate, and Madison Red Owl, Oglala Sioux, both rising sophomores at USD from Hot Springs, South Dakota.

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