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Angela Two Stars’ Ockiyapi at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Ockiyapi by Angela Two Stars at The Walker Art Center

Ockiyapi – Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, The Walker Art Center

 

Solus Decor was very pleased to be incorporated into the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and proud to be a part of Ockiyapi, a thought provoking sculpture representing the beauty of Dakota culture. 

Okciyapi (pronounced OH-key-YUP-ee) was designed and inspired by the talented Angela Two Stars. The Native American artist and member of Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, completed the commission and unveiled it to the public in the Fall of 2021. 

 

Ockiyapi at the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden

 

Previously, the site was occupied by the sculpture “Scaffold”. However, this piece was deemed insensitive as it trivialized a significant and traumatizing part of Dakota history. Originally conceived as a commentary on capital punishment, Scaffold depicted the gallows that were the site of the largest mass execution in US history in which 38 Dakota men were hanged following the Dakota-US war in 1862. Ultimately, the presence of this sculpture and its tactless concept made the sculpture garden an unwelcoming space to the Dakota people.

The project, consisting of seven sections of custom-cast concrete seating, gracefully encircles the Solus domed water feature to resemble the ripples a drop makes. These seven sections represent the Oceti Sakawin – People of the Seven Council Fires, or The Great Sioux Nation, each inscribed with Dakota value words. In an effort to encourage further interaction, visitors can use their phones to immerse themselves in the stories of tribal elders in English and Dakota, fostering a deeper connection to the culture. 

Ockiyapi’s Inspiration

 

Inspired by the artist’s grandfather, Orsen Bernard, a noted scholar and teacher of the Dakota language, Two Stars imbued Okciyapi with profound symbolism. The integration of Dakota words and phrases not only honors the culture, but underscores the importance of the language’s revitalization. Moreover, it displays how Two Stars intended Okciyapi as a metaphor for her grandfather’s teaching of the language throughout the community. 

 

Ockiyapi at the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden
The Artist, Angela Two Stars

 

Every element of the sculpture serves to weave together the fabric of Dakota tradition and identity, foraging a bond between land, water and language. For instance, the central water bowl is a reminder that the name Minnesota derives from the Dakota phrase; Mni Sota Makoce (the land where the water reflects the clouds). Just as the bowl’s gleaming metal disk and the water that runs over its surface allow us to reflect upon this thought. Even the gravel around the structure serves to absorb light during the day and glow blue in the dark to resemble a surrounding pool of water. Furthermore, the surrounding landscape adorned with medicinal plants such as prairie dropseed and sage, evokes a sense of healing and renewal that mirrors the Dakota language as a form of medicine, healing those that enter the space.

Okciyapi stands not only as a testament to Angela Two Stars’ remarkable talent and vision but also as a site of progress in the heart of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Through her profound understanding of her Dakota culture and commitment to honoring its traditions, Two Stars has transformed a painful chapter of history into a space of beauty, reflection, and unity. Okciyapi invites visitors to engage with the Dakota language, to immerse themselves in its stories, and to connect with the land in a deeply meaningful way. In its design and symbolism, Okciyapi serves as a reminder of the resilience of indigenous communities and the power of art to inspire dialogue and understanding.

 

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