Thanks to a grant from the South Dakota Arts Council, which covers half of the artist-in-residence's fee, and in particular thanks to the outpouring of generosity from our loyal One Spirit family, the previously announced four-week Art Camp is now in full swing at the Allen Youth Center.
Renowned Oglala Lakota artist Randall (Randy) Blaze is currently hard at work conducting classes for all ages of participants in various art media, such as sculpture, drawing, painting, and pottery. As one can see from the attached photos, attendance is high and the results are tangible. An opportunity to be tutored by an artist of Randy's stature is the sort of program that, until we opened the Allen Youth Center, was only a pipe dream for the Oglala Lakota of Allen, which is frequently cited as the poorest community in the United States.
In addition to the art classes, One Spirit is also providing food and refreshments for the budding artists, as well as transportation to the Youth Center and a kiln for firing pottery that will remain after the classes are finished. Gus Yellow Hair has been an invaluable helper (and participant) in making this program a resounding win for the people of Allen.
The Allen community has also been instrumental in making this event a success with parents pitching in to help with feeding and supervising the young people taking part. This lends new credence to the phrase, "It takes a village."
One Spirit is sponsoring this cultural event, again with thanks to the South Dakota Arts Council, as another way to further our ongoing goal of helping the Lakota help themselves. Through our food programs, wood and heating efforts, sports teams, and cultural support, we are helping improve the lives of people who are suffering from unemployment, disease, poverty, and a feeling that they have been forgotten in modern America. This will not stand. We will not abandon the Oglala Lakota in their time of need.
You, our generous supporters, make all of our programs possible through your donations. We wanted to take this chance to show you an actual example of the positive results of your kindness.
Randy has eloquently described his approach to the creativity that he is now passing on to a younger generation: "I am creatively aware of the secret workings of nature and natural materials. Every medium manipulated by an artist has its own distinct and special nature". He feels he is supporting his people's traditional culture much as a warrior in the past would count coup. In this case, the "coup" is the transmission of his artistic knowledge to posterity. We are honored to have his participation.
We of One Spirit are also honored to have the participation of so many of the oyate, and your participation in our ongoing efforts. We hope you enjoy seeing the pictures of an outstanding program you have made possible and feel encouraged to continue your loyal support. It might be useful to share the story of the art program at the Allen Youth Center with acquaintances who may not yet be part of the One Spirit family. More support, quite simply, leads to more programs and greater progress.
Many thanks (wopila tanka)!