Artist Profile: Lorri Ann Two Bulls

posted on June 26, 2012

This profile is the first of a series of interviews of local Lakota artists who have had their work featured in The Heritage Center, either through the summer art show or in the gift shop. We thank them for taking the time out to answer the following questions.

1. Talk a little bit about your childhood: where you grew up, where you went to school, what your interests were, etc.

I was born and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota. My parents raised my siblings and me in a home where we were proud of our Lakota heritage. Not only did I grow up in a bilingual home, but my parents were also avid powwow and rodeo followers. From an early age, I've been interested in the art around me, from exploring the badlands and looking at the coloration of an oddly shaped stone, to the beauty of an art-deco office building. In my opinion, art is everywhere.

2. Was art always a part of your life? When did you really begin to develop an interest in making art, and what people and/or events influenced you?

I've been drawing images every since I can remember. I used to draw on just about anything I could get my hands on. I recently found one of my doodles on the back of an old family photo. I was dumb enough to sign my name in one-inch high letters, so I couldn't blame my little brothers! When I entered kindergarten, I never spoke a word. All I wanted to do was draw. At school, I finally had access to blank paper, so I just wanted to draw and be left alone. In one of my old report cards (that my mother kept, and still has), the teacher, Miss Ecarius, wrote comments such as "Still will not talk." In the final semester, she wrote, "Still will not talk, but likes to draw!" The teacher even slapped me one day in an effort to get me to talk, but I wouldn't budge. Years later, when I told my parents, my dad said, "Maybe the teacher was just too boring!"

3. Please talk a little about your medium(s) of choice, and why you prefer making this type of art.

My favorite medium choice is, and always will be painting with acrylics and watercolor. I especially like watercolor because you can mess up and still make it look good.

4. Where do you draw your inspiration from when creating art?

I've always been a huge fan of Andy Warhol's work. My favorite quote of his is; "Art? That's a man's name!" The first Warhol I saw was, of course, the Campbell soup cans. I grew up in the sixties, so you can say that my exposure to Warhol was firsthand. His work was everywhere because he was so new.

5. How do you think that your work and your approach to art have evolved over the years?

In my opinion, an artist is always evolving. I think of art all the time (of course not 24/7). I have to say that my work really started to change me when I battled cancer. I'm a Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor. While I was battling cancer, I would have to fill orders for turtle pendants that I had created. Oddly, my turtles took off, and so I had many orders to fill. Art was therapeutic for me, and helped me to focus on living.

My “owicakapte” doll pins came out of this experience as well. The word means “survivor”, and as a cancer survivor, I know firsthand what's in store for the person who is about to take that journey to fight the battle to live. And these are not just for cancer survivors. The battle to live can be anything from fighting substance abuse, to surviving child or domestic abuse. Once you come through a battle, and you can say "I'm okay," then this Lakota word plays in - owicakapte!

I make each of my doll pins using brain-tanned elk buckskin. I then carefully hand-paint each individual pin.

6. What do you feel are the greatest challenges you encounter as you work in the art world?

Myself, I see no challenge because I create art for myself. If people like what I create, then that's great. I recently had a gentleman tell me that my work makes him feel that he's "free and happy". I thought that was a great compliment!

7. How long have you been involved with the Heritage Center and/or the Summer Art Show? How did you first find about it?

I got involved with my very first art show when I was 18 years old, and it was Brother Simon who encouraged me to enter a piece. I did a pencil series on the Beatles. I think that if you’re a Native American, you've definitely heard of the Red Cloud Art Show.

8. Please describe the piece of your art that is your favorite, and explain why you feel this way.

My favorite piece of all time (because I often think of it) was a painting I did years ago when I was a teenager. It was a free-form using all earth tone colors of browns, beige, orange, pinks. I gave it to my mother, who hung it proudly in the living room. This was a piece that went beyond my usual portrait work.

9. How do you envision your artistic life going into the future?

I make a living as an artist. I think that as long as I can hold a pencil or paintbrush I'll keep going.

10. Please talk about anything else that you feel is important to know about you and/or your art.

That my art is a form of communication, and each piece is meaningful.