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Kindred students 'inspire' Indigenous artist through dreamcatcher project

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Star WallowingBull, second from left, shows eighth-grade students painting techniques for their large-scale art project on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Kindred High School. Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

KINDRED, N.D. — A classroom of eighth-grade students, eager to put the finishing touches on a weekslong “dreamcatcher” project, lined up to grab paint-splattered aprons and paintbrushes Wednesday afternoon in the Kindred High School art studio.

Several of them then circled around an 8-by-8-foot plywood board, where Star WallowingBull, a renowned Indigenous artist from Moorhead, had been outlining the last feather on a large-scale painting of a dreamcatcher.

For three weeks, WallowingBull served as an artist in residence to students at the Kindred elementary and high schools. He helped them to create a large-scale project he called “The Dreamcatcher with Star WallowingBull,” in which students painted something they’ve dreamt of or something telling about them. The paintings were simple — a camera, a dog, a volcano, a lake house.

Those small paintings were then plastered onto the large plywood board, which featured a painting of a dreamcatcher at the center.

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Each art student creates a personal piece of art to be placed on the final painting on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Kindred High School. Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

“The kids inspire me,” WallowingBull said, “with the artwork they do and the things they say.”

One student, 13-year-old Jansen, worked on her individual painting during the class period. She painted a windmill with tulip fields in the foreground. She said someday, when she’s older, she wants to go to Amsterdam, where tulip fields are abundant.

As for having WallowingBull in the classroom with them, she said, “we’re so lucky to have him here. It’s a really amazing experience.”

Kindred High School art teacher Derek Morin, who has been at the school for 13 years, said the project is a great way to represent the students as individuals.

Morin sits on the Kindred Area Arts Partnership, which invited WallowingBull to the schools. This is the third year the school has hosted an artist in residence. Morin said this year he wanted to bring in “somebody who could offer perspective.”

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Star Wallowing Bull, right, helps students begin work on their art project on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Kindred High School. Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

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WallowingBull wasn’t the only resident artist this year, though. Keith Bear, an award-winning Native American storyteller, performer and traditional flute player, was also part of the program. He provided arts and culture assemblies at the elementary and high schools, during the three-week residency.

The residency program ends Friday, Feb. 7, and the dreamcatcher artwork will go on display in the schools. It also will be displayed for the Kindred Area Arts Partnership annual fundraising GALA event on Saturday, Feb. 8.

“It’s fantastic to see something like this at a rural school,” Morin said.

Native American issues reporter and Report for America Corps member Natasha Rausch can be reached at nrausch@forumcomm.com.
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