OKCIYAPI (HELP EACH OTHER)
The Walker Art Center has revealed renderings for its upcoming addition to the Sculpture Garden: Okciyapi (Help Each Other).
The sculpture is from artist Angela Two Stars, a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate who is based in Minneapolis. Her upcoming work is described by the Walker as "a sculptural form, a gathering space, and a participatory work that provides a site for visitors to engage with Dakota language."
The piece, to be unveiled Oct. 9, 2021, will be made of pre-cast engraved concrete and enameled metal panels, arranged in a circular, ring configuration that references a "rippling drop of water." The Dakota language, in script and audio, will also be featured, with the sculpture also incorporating native, medicinal plants.
Okciyapi (Help Each Other), the center says, was inspired by Two Stars' grandfather Orsen Bernad, "and all those working in Dakota language revitalization." The ring shape is meant to represent knowledge of the Dakota language — which is at risk of being forgotten without revitalization efforts — spreading across the generations.
A water vessel in the center of the piece is a reminder that "Minnesota" comes from the Dakota phrase "Mni Sota Makoce," which means "The land where the water reflects the clouds."
"Language revitalization is a healing medicine for Dakota people.," said Two Stars in the center's announcement. "Our identity is grounded in our language. Our ceremonies, songs, and stories are rooted in language. Without our language, we would lose an integral part of who we are as Dakota people.”
Two Stars' proposal was selected with the help of an Indigenous Public Art Selection Committee, and a call to artists made following the controversy over a large "Scaffold" sculpture slated for the garden in 2017.
Okciyapi (Help Each Other) was one of more than 50 submissions they considered. It was originally slated to debut in October of 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.