By Jim Speirs, Executive Director, Arts South Dakota
Arts South Dakota supports public art of all varieties. Our organization often features the multitude of great public art projects happening across South Dakota in our magazine, Arts Alive. And in a creative place like our state, there always seems to be an important new piece of public art being created.
South Dakotans are blessed to be surrounded by an abundance of creative works. Think about SculptureWalk in Sioux Falls, the soaring murals in Faulkton, the new Vigilance sculpture in Custer, the ever-changing art at Red Can Graffiti Jam, Dignity standing high above the Missouri River and the myriad of public art found in nearly every South Dakota community.
Governor Noem has recently been promoting a plan to place statues of the presidents carved on Mount Rushmore to fill existing statuary niches around the Capitol dome. While it’s exciting to hear about a new call for public art from our Governor and we commend her for placing value in public art, we must ask how do the proposed sculptures for the South Dakota Capitol reflect what is intrinsically unique about the people of our state? In our opinion, spotlighting the presidents on Mount Rushmore with newly-created statues is simply a missed opportunity to capture the true spirit of South Dakota and the Native Nations within our state in inspiring new public art.
At its best, public art unites and celebrates our finest qualities as a state, presenting a true reflection of our people. Let’s get original with this focus on public art and this opportunity to create new sculptures for our state. This is the state of create! We can come up with something totally original without repeating what is already carved on the side of a Black Hills mountain. Arts South Dakota urges our Governor to reimagine this opportunity and call upon her to look to our state’s artists and cultural community for a unique, creative expression of all that is good about South Dakota.
Be an advocate for the arts in your community. Learn more at www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.