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Oscar Howe Curatorial Fellows work to preserve, present legendary artist’s work at USD

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The first Oscar Howe Curatorial Fellows are on their way toward curating an original exhibition of Oscar Howe’s permanent collection at the University of South Dakota.

The Oscar Howe Curatorial Fellowship was developed as part of the Contemporary Native Arts Program at USD. American Indian students currently enrolled at USD were eligible to apply. Two students, Rayna Hernandez of Gayville, S.D., and Isaac Yellowbank of Sioux City, Iowa, are working this semester with University Art Galleries (UAG) staff to curate an exhibition of Oscar Howe’s artwork from the UAG permanent collection for next fall. Hernandez is currently studying English and painting at USD. A junior, she is a member of the Yankton Sioux tribe of South Dakota and her motivation to apply for the fellowship was “the desire to maintain and emphasize the world of Native American arts.”

“I can’t think of a better way to help preserve this art form than to showcase the work of one of our culture’s most notable and influential artists, Oscar Howe,” Hernandez stated.

Yellowbank is a member of the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska and he is currently studying kinesiology and sports science with a minor in native studies at USD.

“I feel this fellowship will help expand my knowledge and understanding of the different aspects of Native cultural preservation through art,” he said. “Oscar Howe was an amazing artist and I would love the opportunity to work with and study the incredible artwork he has made.”

The fellowship includes study in curatorial practice and Native American art history, and trains fellows in different areas of museum work such as collections management, curatorial writing and exhibition installation design. Other activities for the fellowship include travel to museums to review Native art and sharing Howe’s work with local audiences.

For more information about the Contemporary Native Arts program or University Art Galleries, please go to or contact Alison Erazmus, director of the University Art Galleries, at or by phone at 677-3177. A photo of Hernandez and Yellowbank is available for download at


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 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson 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 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 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.


Hanna DeLange
USD News