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Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Photo: Bobby Rogers. Courtesy of Walker Art Center.

Walker Art Center Commissions Angela Two Stars to Create Work for Sculpture Garden

The Saint Paul–based artist Angela Two Stars of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe has been awarded a commission by the Walker Art Center in Minnesota. She will create a site-specific public artwork for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden that will debut in the fall of 2020.

Two Stars was selected by staffers at the Walker and a committee made up of native curators, artists, and cultural figures from a pool of more than fifty artists after the institution issued a call for proposals in January. The commission is part of the center’s renewed commitment to engage more with local American Indian communities following the controversy sparked by Sam Durant’s sculpture Scaffold, 2012, which was in part inspired by the gallows where thirty-eight Dakotas were executed in 1862—the piece was dismantled shortly after it was installed in the garden.

The commission will be a sculptural form that evokes the rippling effect from a drop of water and will serve as both a gathering space and an interactive work. Two Stars will incorporate text and a range of medicinal plants in an attempt to engage a broad audience with the Dakota language, culture, and traditional teachings. The work’s reference to water reflects its importance to the Dakota people—the name Minnesota originates from the Dakota phrase Mni Sota Makoce (Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds).

It will be composed of seven sections, each representing the Oceti Ŝakowiŋ, meaning people of the Seven Council Fires, known also as the Great Sioux Nation. This group includes speakers of the Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota dialects and is made up of the Mdewakaŋtoŋwaŋ (Mdewakanton), Wahpekhute (Wahpekute), Wahpetoŋwaŋ (Wahpeton), Sisitoŋwaŋ (Sisseton), Ihaŋktoŋwaŋ (Yankton), Ihaŋktoŋwaŋna (Yanktonai), and Titoŋwaŋ (Teton). Members of the Oceti Ŝakowiŋ nations live largely in Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota, as well as in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

“Language revitalization is a healing medicine for Dakota people,” Two Stars wrote in her artist statement. “Our identity is grounded in our language. Our ceremonies, songs, and stories are rooted in language. Without our language, we would lose those ceremonies, those songs, those stories. We would lose an integral part of who we are as Dakota people. . . . My story of healing has come from my language journey.”

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