Colors on walls show indigenous voices

Published: Aug. 30, 2020 at 7:10 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Between cohosting and painting multiple murals for Ancestor’s Warpaint art show, along with another mural soon to come in a community-building event he is hosting, Focus Smith is staying very active. He says these events are a response to current racial tensions.

“I couldn’t think of any other better way but to use that show to speak, collectively, speak up and speak out,” Focus Smith, the creative director at Thrive Creative, the Arts Wing, says of the overall civil conflicts across the country. “Those very crucial things have happened to indigenous people for centuries now.”

NDN Collective sponsored Ancestor’s Warpaint event to help showcase the art and for artists to convey powerful messages. For this show, Smith created a mural based on the July 3 protest at Mount Rushmore.

“It’s basically an expression of who we are, as indigenous people, bringing us together, and also paying respect to the land defenders, who were, there were 19 of us arrested at Mount Rushmore, and so this is a way for him (Smith) to be, you know, honor the land defenders,” Krystal Two Bulls, the director of LandBack Campaign at NDNCollective, says of the event.

Ancestor’s Warpaint featured many female artists, and they have some strong voices to share.

“Almost like wavelengths, spray-painted on the wall,” Two Bulls mentions a graffiti work she saw at the show, “and that piece for me was so powerful, especially looking back at land defenders, and in that process of colonization, and how colonization really tried to silence our voice.”

And another mural used sound-canceling styrofoam and painted “Silence is not an option” across on the foam.

To carry on the momentum of free-flowing art and messages, Smith is hosting another event at Racing Magpie. He is going to produce another mural with a Denver-based artist, Grow Love. Everyone can view their creative process by stopping by Racing Magpie. Keeping himself busy, Smith says, he wants to “continue to put Native American and the Indigenous Lakota community in a positive light and a creative light. Because that’s who we are.”

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