VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota College of Fine Arts and Department of Art hosts the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute June 11-22.
The OHSAI honors Oscar Howe, longtime USD professor and American Indian Northern Plains artist, by helping educate the next generation of potential Native American artists. Howe established a summer art institute in the 1960s, 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.
The OHSAI is open to high school students with a demonstrated interest in the visual arts and American Indian culture. All courses are taught by impressive professional artists and all accepted students attend free of charge, including meals, housing, instruction and art supplies.
On June 11, the institute hosted Wendy Red Star for an artist talk. Raised on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation in Montana, Red Star’s work is informed both by her cultural heritage and her engagement with multidiscipline forms of creative expression. During her presentation, she explained certain aspects of Crow Culture showing examples of its tipis and other pieces of art.
Though she majored in sculpture in college, she transitioned to photography. “I’ve always loved images and the stories they tell,” said Red Star.
Her work also explores the intersections of Native American ideologies and colonialist structures, both historically and in contemporary society. In one part of the discussion, she presented several pieces of historical delegation photos with writing that described each part of their dress and what it symbolized such as taking a horse from an enemy or touching an enemy in battle.
“They risked their lives to wear these outfits,” Red Star said.
Students had questions about how she researched her tribe’s history. Red Star explained her research process including speaking with elders, viewing documents in the U.S. National Archive and U.S. National Library.
“A great resource is just the local newspaper,” said Red Star.
Red Star is currently based in Portland, Oregon. Intergenerational collaborative work is integral to her practice, along with creating a forum for the expression of Native women’s voices in contemporary art. Her talk included her daughter Beatrice’s perspective in making art.
Next week, the institute will host Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and Neal Ambrose-Smith for an artist talk June 18 at 11 a.m.