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The University of South Dakota Hosts the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute
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Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute exhibit display
Nate Wek - SDPB

Over the past couple of weeks, 20 high school students’ from around the state and region have been taking a summer art camp known as the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute. The event took place at the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts on the campus of the University of South Dakota.

This annual camp provides students with a unique experience. They're given a chance to broaden their skills while learning new art techniques.

At the camp, students will attend multiple artistic workshops. These help the students learn about contemporary Native American fine arts with a focus on traditions, history and culture.

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Grace Elliott is a student at USD, who is also a camp counselor with the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute. She says the counselor experience is very special.

“We stay with the students 24/7. We get them up for breakfast, we take them to lunch, we take them to dinner, we assist them throughout their classes,” said Elliott. “Along with the studio sessions, we take them to every event, and we’re basically 24-hour chaperones.”

Elliott explained that drawing, painting, printmaking, and collages are included in the classes the students attend.

Ethan Tasa is one of the students who attended this year’s summer camp. He will be entering his junior year of high school at Sisseton.

Tasa thanked his teacher for introducing him to this opportunity.

“My art teacher told me about this, because she knew I wanted to do some summer stuff,” said Tasa. “I applied and got in.”

The application process requires all students to submit a portfolio of their work. Those associated with the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute then examine the artwork and select the students they feel best qualify. Each year this camp brings in 16-24 passionate high school artists.

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Ethan Tasa - Sisseton, SD High School Junior

Tasa from Sisseton wants to be an independent artist or an animator someday. He said it’s important for artists to continually perfect their craft.

“You need to keep doing it to keep your skill up. I stopped doing it for a while, and when I came back I couldn’t draw as well,” said Tasa. “We do exercises at school that also help keep all the students going and keep their individual skills up.”

Oscar Howe's Summer Art Institute has been helping passionate art students since the 1960's. This year's camp started on Sunday June 7 and concluded on Friday June 19. Tasa said he hopes to re-apply in 2016.