Occasional cheers and muted conversations drift through the walls of C-EB high school after school and sometimes into the late evening as students meet for clubs, practice for cheerleading, or support wrestlers in their matches.
Such was the atmosphere for spray paint artist Lee Foster Monday night as he completed the third of three wall murals in the hallways of the high school.
Most Cheyenne River residents are familiar with Red Can event that the Cheyenne River Youth Project hosts each summer.
Spray paint artists have been commissioned through CRYP grants and community partnerships to paint murals on the sides of buildings that depict Lakota culture and values.
The artists provide art classes and the CRYP has created a Graffiti Park in the space next to the building where youth and guest artists practice the spray paint art medium.
CRYP was able to obtain a grant and partner with C-EB High School staff and students to commission artist Foster.
Seven years ago, murals from previous students and artists adorned C-EB’s hallways, but in an effort to give the school a cleaner appearance, the murals were painted over, and the walls have been plain white for several years.
The murals give the area where the high school restrooms are located a lively, Ohitika spirit.
Foster said that he has been to CRST several times to participate in the Red Can event, and was glad to have the opportunity to come back and give from to the vision students and art teacher Bev Rose and CRYP Director Julie Garreau provided for him.
Foster was given a tour of the area where the murals would be, and given ideas and sketches from students of what to put on the walls. He then spent a day in studio sketching out the murals.
On Sunday, Foster said he painted the Ohitika mural and the Braves mural with the horse terrain, and on Monday, he painted the mural representing the Lakota values busting through the wall.
Foster’s idea to have the Lakota values breaking through comes from the fact that at one time, there were cultural murals on the wall, but they were covered up.
“The art is breaking back through the wall using the Lakota values,” Foster said.
Reaction to the artwork from students has been positive.
“It brings our culture to life,” said Junior Jaymalee Turning Heart.
Other students said that the school should create more murals on other walls in the school so that school hallways are not so plain.
Foster has been living in Denver, CO since 1998, and lived in Chicago before then. Formally trained in multiple mediums, Foster prefers spray painting, despite its existence as a transient art – an art form that is not permanent.
Foster said that he has been able to make a living from his art for a long time, even having owned his own art supply store at one point.