Students Find Voices In Art, Build Community In Unexpected Ways
Chamberlain, S.D – Perspective. Voice. Dialogue. “Art in my community means perspective,” said Dylan Jacobson, comic artist and illustrator. “There are new people coming to Sioux Falls – my hometown – all the time, from all different backgrounds and experiences. Art can profoundly impact your perspective on something, or it can open doors to many other perspectives you’d never previously considered. Art is tremendously important in helping communities grow.”
“Voice,” said Doug TwoBulls, artist and musician. “Art gave me a way to find my voice. Growing up in my South Dakota community, anger and frustration weren’t going to help me accomplish anything. But art… people ask questions about art. My art gives me a way to voice my perspective, my experiences.”
“Art in my community means dialogue,” said Micheal TwoBulls, also an artist and musician. “Art gives us an outlet to break out of the expectations that surround us – in our families, in our culture, in work or school. Everyone faces some kind of expectation. And, everyone can communicate in the language of art, so it helps us find common ground to have dialogue about things that matter.”
In conjunction with the South Dakota Arts Council, Dylan Jacobson spent a week with the seventh and eighth grade classes at St. Joseph’s Indian School. Doug TwoBulls and Micheal TwoBulls, who are cousins and frequently collaborate in their work, were invited to join Dylan by Dave Meyer II, St. Joseph’s art teacher. The trio taught students about the process of creating a comic book – storytelling, pencil drawing and inking.
“After learning about each aspect, students were able to deploy themselves in the area that suited them best,” said Dylan. “If they were really inspired to tell a story, they could work in that area. If they needed a break or discovered they have a passion for inking, they could work on that section for a while. Everyone was able to adapt and move so meaningful things were happening every day.” The fluidity of the project and its elements required students to express themselves on some level.
“Each individual had an opportunity to work in an element that best suited them,” said Meyer. “Whether students asserted that they wanted to work in a certain area, or recognized talent in another and encouraged them to take on that section, the project required communication. Art is communication on some level. Art facilitates community and provides a common language.”
Meyer hopes the visiting artist experiences help his students learn about that communication and expression of voice.
“It takes courage to be an artist,” he said. “It takes courage to share what you’re thinking and invite dialogue. But if we can find that courage through art, as Dylan, Micheal and Doug pointed out, we can share our perspective and our voice. We can learn about others through this common language of art, and we can impact our communities in really profound ways. In that way, everyone benefits.”
The eight pages of comics and mural created during the residency will be shared with students, parents and guardians. The mural will be displayed full-scale and also serve as the cover of the comics. The work will be displayed in the Alumni Art Gallery in the Alumni & Historical Center in the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center on St. Joseph’s campus, which is open to the public and free of charge.
South Dakota Arts Council support is provided with funds from the State of South Dakota, through the Department of Tourism, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
St. Joseph’s Indian School, an apostolate of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, partners with Native American children and families to educate for life – mind, body, heart and spirit.