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September is Wakagapi Wi,‘ The Month of Creativity



EAGLE BUTTE — September is Wakagapi Wi, or the Month of Creativity, at the Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte. To commemorate the occasion, the nonprofit youth organization is hosting a variety of art classes for young people ages 13- 18 at its Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center.

The classes include mixed media art, ribbon- skirt making, native fashion and graffiti art. Guest instructors include visiting artists Kazilla, East and Scape Martinez and local artists Bonnie LeBeau and Gina Still Smoking.

“Spots are limited, so we encourage teens to contact Jerica Widow at 964- 8200 as soon as possible to secure their places,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “These classes will provide important opportunities to learn about new artistic mediums, share creative ideas, and explore personal style. We also have stipends available.”

The first class, mixed media, took place last week. South Florida- based Kazilla, who has participated in CRYP’s RedCan graffiti jam since its inception in summer 2015, led pottery, drawing, graffiti and recycled- art workshops on Sept. 5- 8.

Kazilla lives and works in Miami’s Little Haiti, where she has become one of the region’s top street artists, combining fine art and graffiti art to create an edgy, colorful clash of two different worlds.

Often using various mediums, she continues to experiment with her distinctive, dynamic style.

Also this past week was “Ribbon Skirt Making” with Bonnie LeBeau, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. LeBeau held her weekend classes on Sept. 9- 10.

“Bonnie is incredibly gifted in the traditional Lakota arts,” Garreau said. “Her star quilts are famous in the area, and it was an honor to have her with us, teaching our young people and strengthening the connection they have with their own Lakota culture.”

The next session starts today. “Creativity Through Native Fashion: Part One” is scheduled for 4- 9 p. m. daily through Wednesday, Sept. 13. Gina Still Smoking, an enrolled member of Kul Wicasa Oyate (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe), will lead this first installment of her class and will return next week to lead Part Two. The second set of classes are scheduled for 4- 9 p. m. on Sept. 18- 20.

Gina Still Smoking and her husband, Louis, are members of the Creative Indigenous Collective. The former Bozeman residents, who now live in South Dakota, have been fashion designers for about four years.

“We’re looking forward to giving our kids the opportunity to learn about the world of Native American fashion, from its history to what’s trending now,” Garreau said. “With Gina’s guidance, they’ll develop the inspiration, motivation and skills they need to start designing their own clothes. Not only will they be able to design clothing in both classes, they’ll also discover what it takes to pursue a career in fashion.

Also on Sept. 18- 20, Denver-based East Foster will host a special “ Advanced Graffiti” class for Cheyenne River teens who have completed at least one arts internship through CRYP’s Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Arts Institute.

The classes will take place at 4- 9 p. m. daily.

East graduated from the Chicago Academy of Fine & Performing Arts in 1988. This classically trained scholarship recipient and teacher’s apprentice excelled in the arts of Intaglio printmaking and color theory. His love of technical lines and color spilled over into his passion for urban art, and East became a leading influence in the Illinois underground art scene and is a founder of Midwest graffiti styles.

Like Kazilla, East has participated in all three RedCan events to date. He now serves as lead artist for the event, and for CRYP’s ongoing arts initiatives.

Scape Martinez, a first- time RedCan participant this year, will close the Month of Creativity with his “Scape Martinez Graffiti Academy” on Sept. 21- 23. Classes will be held from 4- 9 p. m. daily and are open to beginners.

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Scape is an accomplished multidisciplinary artist who has been involved in graffiti art since the 1980s. Since then, he has pushed the boundaries of graffiti and street art, bringing this urban style into fine art, public art and education. His fine- art paintings combine elements of graffiti art and abstract expressionism to create large scale, rhythmic and expressive composition.

Scape frequently hosts graffiti workshops and lectures for teenagers, fellow artists and educators, and he has written four best-selling books on creating graffiti- style urban art.

To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, visit And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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