Astronomy, referred to as Star Knowledge, plays an important role in traditional Lakota cultural identity. Lakota Star Knowledge holds that the heavens and earth mirror each other. For this project, supported by Media Art Xploration (MAX), youth from the Boys & Girls Club of the Rosebud Reservation used cameras to reacquaint themselves with Lakota Star Knowledge. Giving visual and concrete form to concepts passed down orally over generations, they produced twelve photomurals and a ten-minute video, Stars & Turnips, on view at the California Academy of Sciences as part of MAX’s 2019 Space Festival.
Each photomural is a composite of four photographs taken by the club members. The images examine the relationships between the photographers, their lives on earth, the natural world, the stars, the sun, and the moon. By empowering Lakota youth to use various creative tools to become their own storytellers, this project seeks to reconnect them to their cultural heritage through exploring and reinterpreting collective memory.
In the Summer and Fall of 2018, photographers Robin Dahlberg, Josee Schyrer, and Veronica Melendez of the teaching collaborative 5 Corners Collective, Inc., hosted two photographic workshops at the Boys & Girls Club of Rosebud in Mission, South Dakota. Since the star stories are not compiled in any readily available book or anthology, in order to learn about their shared cultural lineage, the Boys & Girls Club members interviewed and photographed Lakota elders, naturalists, and Star Knowledge experts, who all highlighted the intersection of the natural world, the stars, and the Lakota. Additionally, they visited the neighboring Badlands National Park during its annual Astronomy Festival, learned about the plants and flowers most closely associated with Lakota celestial theology, and photographed themselves, their community, and the surrounding landscape. Employing various photographic props such as mirrors, colored filters and different lighting, they examined the ancient Lakota belief that the heavens and earth reflect one another.
See the exhibit May 17 & 18 at the California Academy of Sciences
- Boys & Girls Club of Rosebud
Established in 2004, the Boys & Girls Club of Rosebud incorporates mentoring, sports, scouting, academic tutoring, and the arts to provide youth with the skills, resilience, and self–confidence needed to become healthy youth adults. The club serves approximately three hundred children between the ages of six and fifteen annually across three sites on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.
5 Corners Collective, Inc. is a non–profit teaching and exhibition collective, founded by five graduates of the Hartford Art School’s MFA program in photography. It partners with community groups to host photography and filmmaking workshops. Volunteer artists teach participants tools to tell their own stories, and the Collective creates opportunities for them to share their work with their communities. In this way, 5 Corners Collective, Inc. encourages its students to celebrate their strengths, to confront their challenges, and to grow as artists, advocates, and community members.