LINKS
2016-07-20 / Arts

OLC Historical Center’s Summer Art Series welcomes Kevin Pourier

By Aly Duncan Neely
Native Sun News
Correspondent


Award winning Oglala Lakota artist Kevin Pourier displays his stone inlaid buffalo jewelry and art at the 13th Annual “A Vision of Our History by Lakota Artists” at the Oglala Lakota College Historical Center near Kyle. Above, this beautifully inlaid floral pattern on buffalo horn by Oglala Lakota artist Kevin Pourier was on display July 4-8 at the Oglala Lakota College Historical Center Summer art series. 
Photos by Aly Duncan Neely Award winning Oglala Lakota artist Kevin Pourier displays his stone inlaid buffalo jewelry and art at the 13th Annual “A Vision of Our History by Lakota Artists” at the Oglala Lakota College Historical Center near Kyle. Above, this beautifully inlaid floral pattern on buffalo horn by Oglala Lakota artist Kevin Pourier was on display July 4-8 at the Oglala Lakota College Historical Center Summer art series. Photos by Aly Duncan Neely KYLE –– Oglala Lakota College’s summer art series “A Vision of Our History by Lakota Artists” featured the work of Kevin Pourier July 4– 8, at the OLC Historical Center west of Kyle.

The series, which began in 2003, is devoted to promoting public awareness of the art of the Oglala Lakota people, highlights an historical exhibit of photography from the 1800s, contemporary artwork and a video presentation. Celebrating its 13th year, the summer exhibit opened on June 13 and runs through Sept. 2, and features a different Oglala Lakota artist each week. Pourier’s buffalo horn art took center stage last week as groups of tourists and school children visited the exhibit.


Far left, Kevin Pourier holds a buffalo horn belt inlaid with crushed stone, inspired by intricate Lakota beadwork designs. Far left, Kevin Pourier holds a buffalo horn belt inlaid with crushed stone, inspired by intricate Lakota beadwork designs. In the hands of Oglala Lakota couple Kevin and Valerie Pourier, a buffalo horn becomes jewelry, a spoon, a belt, or a conversation piece. Working collaboratively, their designs are resplendent with Monarch and Swallowtail butterflies, magpies and swallows, star patterns, old beadwork patterns, modern geometrics, floral patterns inspired by the Dakota, and socially relevant Lakota themes. The exquisite buffalo horn creations are intricately carved and etched, then inlaid with natural crushed stones in a variety of colors, sanded by hand and finally polished to a glossy finish.


Left, in the artist’s hands, Kevin Pourier holds the raw material and the finished product, a dragonfly engraved buffalo horn inlaid with mother of pearl and sandstone. Left, in the artist’s hands, Kevin Pourier holds the raw material and the finished product, a dragonfly engraved buffalo horn inlaid with mother of pearl and sandstone. Pourier related a story about the blue stone he uses that comes from Mato Tipila (Bear Lodge) or from Maka To (Blue Earth), Minn., which has historical significance. He stated that a blue stone was given to Crazy Horse by his uncle. When he went into battle Crazy Horse put the stone behind his ear so that his enemies could not kill him. Pourier went on to add that Crazy Horse was not killed by an enemy.

Pourier pointed to a picture of Sitting Bull hanging on the wall of the Historical Center. On Sitting Bull’s head was a hat with a Monarch butterfly wing there in the hatband. Pourier went on to explain this photo and his use of the Monarch butterfly as a subject for his art:

“It was a sad time for the Lakota when Sitting Bull, the spiritual leader of the Hunkpapa, was taken to Fort Randall after his surrender. Everything was being taken from us, our land, the buffalo, our way of life, our people were being killed. We couldn’t practice our spirituality. Even through all this, Sitting Bull was trying to save everything. I can imagine him finding this butterfly wing on the ground, gently picking it up and praying over it, and placing it in his hatband. This one gesture shows that Sitting Bull had awareness and understanding of the beauty and life of something as small and delicate as that butterfly. Who can we name today that would do something like that under the same circumstances? People think of our leaders as being all bear claws, but he wore a butterfly wing.”

Pourier continued, “I’m not all flowers and butterflies ... art has the power to heal and to educate. I try to bring about awareness and healing.” Elaborating on a piece he calls Electric Blue, a work using blue stone inlay, depicting swallows in flight, Pourier stated, “The swallow is often found on the back of women’s dresses in their regalia; they represent courage and bravery.” Pourier’s butterflies and flowers are clearly symbols of something that echoes the sensitivity, bravery and courage of the past, needed to carry the Lakota people and culture through the present and into the future. “As an artist,” Pourier emphasized, “it is important for me to have a voice, to bring out Lakota identity and issues.”

“My art makes a statement, and sometimes that makes people angry,” but that doesn’t stop Pourier. He flipped through pages of a book of his art to one showing a full inlaid buffalo horn he called Sitting Bull with Monarch Oyate, which shows Sitting Bull surrounded by “a family of Monarch butterflies, medicine, safe and secure out of tragedy, and loved.” As he turned the pages illustrating more of his creations, he exclaimed, “I try to point out behavior, about being human and human connectedness, to make people think and discuss, to heal and to overcome. If there were more awareness and discussion there wouldn’t be conflict over issues like climate change, there wouldn’t be oppression. We have a lot of unlearning to do.”

Please look for more of Kevin and Valerie Pourier’s work online at www.kevinpourier.com. The art series continues with the bead and quillwork of Joey Blue Legs July 11–15, with the Historical Center open all day during regular OLC business hours.

(Contact Aly Duncan Neely at kestreldancing@gmail.com)

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