Lakota Artist Receives Regional Fellowship

Nov 20, 2015

"Seeing" - by Dyani White Hawk.
Credit Courtesy Dyani White Hawk

A Lakota woman with ties to the Rosebud Sioux Reservation is one of 7 recipients of the 2015 Regional Artist Fellowship. Awarded by the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the annual grant recognizes American Indian emerging artists moving into an established career in their area of talent, knowledge and expertise. SDPB’s Jim Kent has more…

The Native Arts and Culture Foundation was created in 2010 to promote the revitalization, appreciation and perpetuation of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists and organizations nationwide.

Francene Blythe is the Foundation’s Director of Programs.

“The Fellowship program is very successful in the sense that it acknowledges the work of the emerging artist into established career in their area of talent and knowledge, expertise and exposure,” Blythe explains. “And the purpose of the fellowship is to enhance and provide more exposure and opportunity through the fellowship.”

Sicangu Lakota painter and mixed-media artist Dyani White Hawk.
Credit Courtesy Dyani White Hawk

The Foundation has supported more than 160 artists and projects throughout Indian Country including Alaska and Hawaii through grant making, convening and advocacy.

This is first year regional fellowships have been awarded in the Upper Midwest and Hawaii. That was good timing for Dyani White Hawk. The Sicangu Lakota painter and mixed-media artist worked as curator for the All My Relations Gallery in Minneapolis since 2011 before going out on her own as an artist in March of this year.

“The award really has important timing,” White Hawk observes. “It’s allowed me to pay my studio rent for the year. And other thing that I need to absolutely make it possible to branch off into this first year of full-time self-employment. Without support like this and the galleries that I work with and people who support my work I wouldn’t be able to do it straight-away all by myself.” 

Tiospaye” (Extended Family) - by Dyani White Hawk.
Credit Courtesy Dyani White Hawk

Dyani White Hawk believes she was born an artist. Her favorite kind of play was making things. After taking photography and drawing in high school and studying whatever art she could at Haskell University, the Minnesota-based artist attended the Institute of American Indian Arts.

She then earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin before working as curator for the All My Relations Gallery in Minneapolis.

Dyani explains her art by saying that everything she creates starts from what she knows best…herself

“But I use my own stories and my personal experiences to talk about the large stories of our tribe or of Native American experience within the United States,” she explains. “Our relationships to the government and the kind of trajectory of Native history. So…so I use my personal story…as a tool to talk about bigger conversations.”

One of Dyani’s goals is to incorporate traditional Lakota quill work into her creations in order to perpetuate an art form she sees as essential to telling the story of her people. 

Adding the role of full-time artist to those of mother, wife and Lakota family member will keep Dyani White Hawk busy. And as much as she’s a bit intimidated by the responsibility the fellowship brings by its title alone, Dyani is confident that its benefits will assist her toward success on her new journey into art. 

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