In June, EPACENTER ARTS artist Scape Martinez was selected to participate in Cheyenne River Youth Project’s 3rd annual RedCan, a one-of-a-kind invitational graffiti jam where graffiti cultures come together in unexpected and inspiring ways. Located in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, RedCan 2017 took place at Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park and featured eleven artists from across the United States. Here’s what Scape had to say about his five-day experience at RedCan:
What was your biggest takeaway?
Art heals individuals and communities. Art has the power to impact and steer young people into better decisions in their lives. I walked away with the idea that I wanted to change the world and I want to use art as my vehicle.
You mentioned that art heals. Is this something you witnessed?
In short, yes. There were local musicians who played in a drum circle during RedCan, and one of the drummers shared his story. His family was fractured and he was distant from his daughter because of his issues with addiction. He weaved the story on how RedCan allowed him to reconnect with this family and his daughter. It was a very powerful story and one that stuck with me.
Another thing that really moved me was the open prayer that they had every day where people talked about topics like depression and suicide. One of the works that I did was in direct response to that time. The work was titled “Wakanyeja” which means “honor the little ones.”
What are ways that RedCan and EPACENTER ARTS are connected?
It broadened my horizons in terms of how art can impact community. It probably strengthened my view that you really need to have people dedicated and married to the mission of your work. And you have to have strong partnerships. RedCan has both.
Also, through a community of artists and musicians, people from the Native American heritage were able to rediscover their culture and RedCan gave them an avenue to express and tune into their culture. The town of Eagle Butte, as an outsider, may seem bland. But bringing these artists in gave it color, character and identity. This relationship between town and art isn’t unique and it’s something I see in East Palo Alto every day.
What can EPACENTER ARTS learn from RedCan?
RedCan does what I think we are trying to do. The idea of having a physical place that is a safe place for youth, that provides services and training with both indoor and outdoor spaces, like an art park – all of this is in the lane of what EPACENTER ARTS will be.