Air-dry clay was the medium and sixth through eighth-grade students at St. Joseph’s Indian School were the artists who enjoyed the guidance and wisdom of visiting artist Sculptor Darwin Wolf.
Their task: create sculptures of the animals that inhabit the South Dakota Prairies. The fist-sized finished products will find a home in the Native American Studies classroom, where they will be used to learn the Lakota names of the buffalo, turtle, coyote, eagle, spider and other creatures significant to Lakota cultural life. Students chose from several animals that are part of the Lakota language curriculum used at the school.
“The students are excited about this project because they get to give something back to the school, “ noted Wolf.
Wolf is no stranger to St. Joseph’s. He is the bronze artist who collaborated with students to create the statue of St. Joseph that graces the entrance to campus. He returns to the school often and intentionally.
“The arts are strong here,” said Wolf. “Other places that I go to as a visiting artist, the students ask me to make them something. That doesn’t happen here.”
He advocates for art education to develop well-rounded individuals. His daughter is in the human resources field.
“She tells me that it is a struggle to find people who can think for themselves and be creative. Many people can follow instructions, but few can create them. It is a real void in employment,” he added. “Art isn’t just about having fun. It is about exercising a valuable part of the brain.”
Wolf is a versatile artist who confidently moves from one subject matter to another. After many years of pouring molten bronze, he knows his way around a bronze foundry and does restoration projects. He leans strongly toward art for the ordinary person in the classical style for liturgical, military and monumental sculpture. Works currently in progress include the Sioux Falls Firefighters’ Memorial, South Dakota Sioux Code Talker Monument and Monument to the First American Female Fighter Pilots for Peoria, Ill.
The visit was made possible in part through the South Dakota Arts Council Artists in Schools & Communities (AISC). AISC is a residency program for K-12 schools and community organizations, with matching funds from the South Dakota Arts Council.