Vermillion Community Mural Project
painting the town
The Vermillion Community Mural Project is a subsidiary of the the VCA developed by Amber Hansen, an assistant professor at University of South Dakota’s Department of Fine Arts. The VCMP seeks to create public art spaces for community members to share their stories through visual language. Through participating in the creation of the murals, we hope that more people will see themselves as imaginers and creators, capable of creating the world they want to live in.
The first community mural, completed in 2017, is featured on the side of the Coyote Twin Theater in Vermillion’s Pocket Park. It drew inspiration from familiar Vermillion sights and community values, represented as movie posters in honor of its location.
The VCMP’s second and most recent mural is an ongoing endeavor. This project is being led, designed, and created by young, new leaders and indigenous artists Reyna Hernendaz, Inkpa Mani, and Elizabeth Skye.
Preparation for this project began in April 2019, with the location identified as the back side of the Coyote Twin Theater so as to be visible from City Hall. The artists then held public meetings, during which they invited members of the community to share their thoughts on what they would like to see represented in a mural through workshops that included storytelling, drawings, and poetry. From these conversations, the artists found that there is need to create space for women, specifically indigenous women. Their full mural design—planned as a diptych that will wrap the northeast corner of the building—pays tribute to the importance of women while telling the Sioux creation story.
coming [back] to life
The portion of the mural completed during summer 2019 is titled Eúŋkičhetupi, a Lakota word meaning “we are restored” or “we come back to life.” The theme of rebirth encompasses not only the Sioux creation story but also the anticipation of restoration after the flood waters, which were heavy on the minds of the Vermillion community in early 2019, recede. Scroll through the slideshow to watch Eúŋkičhetupi come to life and learn more about the imagery incorporated in the design.
Planting seeds for Wanáȟča
The second portion of this mural project will pick up in May 2020. This fall and winter we are seeking support in meeting our $13,000 fundraising goal. In addition to applying for grants from state and regional arts organizations, we are asking for individual donations. Part two of the mural, titled Wanáȟča, the Lakota word for “flower that blooms,” will fill a larger area than its counterpart and represents another significant investment in and dedication to enlivening and enriching the Vermillion downtown experience. All contributions will compensate the artists for providing their time and talent, pay supplies such as the outdoor art paint, and cover additional administrative costs such as documentation of the process.
Community art needs community hands. We are grateful for your support whether financial or physical. Together we can continue to inspire imagination and vibrant representation to our town.
Throughout the painting process in 2019 we were lucky to have supportive partners who helped fund the project and prepare the wall. They include our many friends and neighbors who attended the meetings and wielded paint brushes, the Bush Foundation’s Change Network, Vermillion Area Community Foundation, the USD’s Department of Fine Arts, and Marisa Cummings and USD’s Native American Cultural Center, Ace Hardware of Vermillion, Midwest Ready Mix & Equipment, Inc., and Mart Brothers Construction, Inc.