Visiting artist does workshops at St. Joseph’s

A St. Joe's student works on her art project

Celebrating students’ identities through art

Vermillion, S.D., artist Susan Heggestad recently conducted workshops for St. Joseph’s Indian School students as part of the South Dakota Arts Councils Artists in Schools & Communities program.

Artist Susan Heggestad

Through exercises in bookmaking and drawing, students explored art as a means to develop and celebrate their identities. By swapping pieces of their drawings, they saw how they and their work can be influenced by people and events around them.

“Each student created a drawing of a person or figure with a clear top, middle and bottom,” said Susan. “Once the drawings were complete, they were cut into three pieces. Students kept one piece of their drawing and swapped the other two with class members.”

After constructing the front and back covers for their work from cardboard and fabric, students put the new pieces in place with the remaining section of their original.

“The project was a variation of an ‘exquisite corpse,’ which is a technique of collaborative art invented by the Surrealists,” said Heggestad.

Heggestad uses art as a means of communication and discovery in the classroom. She believes visual art can enable students to explore the ways that family, religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status and other cultural influences help shape their sense of self.

Showing off the completed piece

Susan received her MFA in Printmaking from the State University at Buffalo, New York (SUNY) in 2002, and her BFA from the University of South Dakota. Her work has been showcased at the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Sciences in Sioux Falls, the Haydon Art Center in Lincoln, Neb., North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D., as well as numerous other venues. In addition, she is the recipient of several awards, including a South Dakota Arts Council Artist Grant in 2007.

This program is sponsored by St. Joseph’s Indian School, with support provided by the South Dakota Arts Council with funds from the State of South Dakota, through the Department of Tourism and State Development, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

St. Joseph’s Indian School is an apostolate of the Priests of the Sacred Heart and one of the first ministries of the U.S. Province. Fr. Stephen Huffstetter, SCJ, is executive director of the school.