Nelson, Bryan to speak Thursday at S.D. Art Museum

BROOKINGS – S.D. Nelson and Gregory Bryan, the men behind two South Dakota Art Museum exhibits of American Indian story illustrations, will speak at 5:45 p.m. Thursday during the 5-7 p.m. closing reception for “S.D. Nelson: Sharing My Vision” and “A Life’s Work: Paul Goble Illustrations of American Indian Stories.” 

The public is invited to a book signing from 4-5 p.m. followed by a free reception with light appetizers and refreshments. Nelson and Bryan will speak from 5:45-6:30 p.m. These exhibits both close Sunday.

Jodi Lundgren, South Dakota Art Museum curator of exhibitions, displayed these exhibits at the same time in order to highlight the connections between Goble and Nelson’s artwork and books.

“S.D. Nelson is an important Lakota artist and author who was inspired by Paul Goble’s illustrations and retellings of traditional American Indian stories in children’s books,” Lundgren said. “Nelson brings his own style and life experience to his books and art and we’re excited to share that with our visitors. Having the Paul Goble life works retrospective traveling show on view at the same time and being able to host Gregory Bryan, Goble’s biographer and the co-curator of this exhibit, is icing on the cake.”

S.D. Nelson

This is the first time Nelson’s works have been on display at South Dakota Art Museum.

“S.D. Nelson: Sharing My Vision” presents a selection of original artworks spanning Nelson’s career. Nelson’s fluid style and traditional Native American imagery combines movement, color and form into a visual celebration of life. After working with the museum’s staff to compile this body of works, Nelson offered to donate the entire exhibit to the museum’s permanent collection.

“We are so honored that S.D. Nelson would entrust these works to us and as stewards of the art treasures of South Dakota, we will preserve and share them with visitors, students and researchers for years to come,” said Lynn Verschoor, director of the South Dakota Art Museum.

An award-winning author and illustrator, Nelson is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North and South Dakota. His paintings offer a fresh contemporary interpretation of traditional Lakota images. Nelson creates ledger drawings in ink and colored pencil and paintings with acrylics, which he brushes, sponges, splatters and sprays. In addition to this work, he has painted extensively on animal skins and bone and has crafted traditional rawhide drums and leather beadwork.

Nelson’s artworks appear in books, greeting cards and CD covers, and are held in both private and public collections. He has served as the author and illustrator for 11 children’s books. 

His books have received the American Indian Library Association Honor Book Award in 2016; the Spur Award from Western Writers of America in 2004, 2006 (Finalist Awards 2005, 2011, 2016); the Notable Book Award from the American Library Association 2001, 2011; and the Bluebonnet Master List Award from the Texas Library Association in 2011. He has lectured at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., and was the keynote speaker for Read North Dakota in 2010 (North Dakota Humanities Council).

After graduating in 1968 from North High School in Fargo, North Dakota, Nelson earned a B.S. in Art from Minnesota State University, Moorhead. He taught art one year in the Wahpeton public schools in North Dakota before teaching 27 years  in Flagstaff, Arizona. He is a 2012 inductee of the North High School Hall of Fame.

Gregory Bryan

Gregory Bryan wrote “Paul Goble, Story Teller” based on his extensive interviews with Goble and his family, friends and people influenced by Goble, including S.D. Nelson. Bryan’s book was published by the South Dakota Historical Society shortly after Goble’s death, Jan. 5, 2017. In 2018, his book received the Midwest Book Awards Best Biography medal from the Midwest Independent Publishing Association.

Bryan is currently a professor of education at the University of Manitoba, specializing in literacy education and children’s literature. Born and raised in Australia, he lives in Winnipeg with his wife and their two children.

“A Life’s Work: Paul Goble Illustrations of American Indian Stories” is a traveling exhibit developed by South Dakota Art Museum and co-curated with Bryan. It has been on display at The Journey Museum in Rapid City and the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre. It is back at South Dakota Art Museum for the first time since its launch in 2017. The exhibit closes Sept. 15 and becomes available for other museums to display.

Although Goble’s artwork is scattered throughout the world in private and public collections, the primary resource for access to works representative of his career is the South Dakota Art Museum. The museum’s extensive Paul Goble Collection consists of more than 500 watercolor, gouache and ink illustrations.

Visitors to the South Dakota Art Museum will always see a rotation of Goble works on display, usually tied to a specific theme or character. In contrast, “A Life’s Work” presents a chronological view of his work with pieces representing books from different stages of his career. The exhibit is designed as a celebration of the remarkable talents and career of Goble. Visitors are invited to enjoy Goble’s paintings and to witness for themselves the products of a scholarly commitment to accurate research, an abiding passion for art, and deep love for the people and cultures of America’s Great Plains.

Taylor McKeown, South Dakota Art Museum’s curator of collections, was one of three 2016 summer interns who worked closely with Bryan and then-curator of collections, Lisa Scholten, to prepare the traveling exhibit.

“Working as closely as I do with the museum’s Paul Goble Collection, it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to share this full arc of Goble’s life works,” explained McKeown. “Moreover, collaborating with Greg Bryan has been so rewarding because Greg has such an intimate knowledge of Paul Goble’s life and it makes working with the Goble Collection so much richer and more meaningful.”


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