CERF+ Beneficiaries and artists Kevin and Valerie Pourier were recently honored with the “Best in Show” award at Sante Fe Indian Market in August. The South Dakota-based Oglala Lakota artists work collaboratively, creating elegant, wearable sculptural forms like belts, necklaces and earrings made of buffalo horn that is shaped, carved and inlaid with semi-precious minerals. In the traditional manner, they also create contemporary Buffalo Horn spoons and cups.
Kevin reflects on winning the prestigious award, “We spend the entire summer working hard in the studio. We miss out on a lot of activities because Val and I are always preparing for our biggest show of the year, the Sante Fe Indian Market. We don’t mind too much because this is what we do! Our work is very time consuming and labor intensive so to even have a small inventory, lots of time is needed. This year all the hard work and missing out on summer things paid off! We won the Best of Show Award!”
The artists’ home and studio are located on the Pine Ridge Reservation Medicine Root District, just on the beautiful northern edge of the Badlands area of the reservation. The inspirational and material source of the Pourierʼs work is rightly ascribed to what also happens to be the Lakota Peopleʼs first name, Pte Oyate kin, the Buffalo People. As partners, they cultivate the idea that their work not only comes out of the lives of the People, but is a new cultural art form.
In 2013, the Pouriers experienced the worst blizzard recorded in the region’s history. A tree went through their roof ruining tools, flooring and materials.
After the big snow storm that caved in the roof to my studio, we were left with no place to work. I contacted CERF+ and with their help, I was able to keep on making my art and make it to my next show with an emergency relief grant. Getting help from someone in an emergency, especially as an artist, can make the world of difference whether we are going to make it or not. What a relief! Thank you CERF for being there!