South Dakota Arts Council (Pierre, SD)

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A woman sitting on a chair talks to children sitting in a circle on the floor.  In the background examples of her rug work can be seen.

Rugmaker Diane Filds of Aberdeen, South Dakota, talks with school children at the Dacotah Praire Museum about the Scandinavian technique of making rag rugs called nalbinding. Photo by Andrea Graham

The South Dakota Arts Council (SDAC) has a strong commitment to supporting and preserving local folk arts in the community. As part of its mission, SDAC also works to make quality art accessible statewide.

In FY 2004, SDAC received an NEA Folk & Traditional Arts Infrastructure Initiative grant of $20,000 to support the administration of its folklife programs. For one such program, in 2004 folklorist Andrea Graham conducted fieldwork in ethnic and tribal communities as well as occupational communities, such as ranchers and cowboys, to locate and document artists working in traditional textile arts. Based on her findings, SDAC and the South Dakota Art Museum collaborated to curate The Fabric of Community: Traditional Textiles of South Dakota, a group exhibit featuring ten artists selected from South Dakota’s diverse cultural groups. Featured textiles include Lakota star quilts and jingle dresses, Norwegian hardanger embroidery and costumes, Mennonite quilts, and Finnish rag rugs. The exhibit opens at the South Dakota Art Museum (Brookings) in fall 2005 and travels to the Dahl Arts Center (Rapid City) and the Dacotah Prairie Museum (Aberdeen) in 2006. Each location will host public receptions with craft demonstrations by the featured artists.

In 2004, SDAC continued its Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program and facilitated a Web site developed collaboratively by the seven Missouri River states in conjunction with the Lewis and Clark anniversary celebration. Activities related to these projects included fieldwork to search out new traditional artists, photo and audio documentation of the apprenticeship program, and the development of strategies for increasing the participation of traditionbearers in a wider range of SDAC programs.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)