Artist creates work with a message: 'Along the Way'

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This is the story of an artist whose ingredients include: symbolism, the past, the present, and his Lakota culture.
Each piece has it's own message.
So what is that message?
Well, that all depends on who's looking at it: as we go Along the Way right here in Rapid City.

Inside the Racing Magpie downtown, you'll find a soft spoken man with a creativity revealed in layers.

Artist Michael Two Bulls says, "The idea is kind of to start a dialogue with the viewer and challenge them so speak, like 'Oh what is this piece about? What is it saying to me, or how could I relate to this? "

34 year old Michael Two Bulls is a studio artist here, where he rents space, to create Contemporary Native Art.

Artist Michael Two Bulls says, "A lot of times I'll pull from a lot of the traditional aspects of my Lakota culture, but at the same time, I also draw from like more contemporary issues that we kind of deal with today."

He likes to use 3 or more processes in each piece: a style known as mixed media.

Two Bulls says, "So these 2 are photo transfer and this is gold leaf. And the rest is like spray paint."

The results not only catch the eye but raise questions in the mind.

Two Bulls says, "So, it's just kind of this idea of golden. What does it mean like and how and what happened to my ancestors because of that precious metal that was found in the Black Hills? "

And to the past, present, and multiple media, he adds symbolism.

"This box is over the map legend, you know of the boundaries of the reservation, like we're boxed in," says Two Bulls.

But his creativity is not at all boxed in.

Two Bulls says, "Our diet has changed drastically. Maybe just 100 years ago. Before then it was traditional foods like bison and teensuhluh. It's like really nutritional things and then all the sudden you get this Western food so of course you're going to get this spike of diabetes that's prevalent."

You could say his work varies from A to Z.

Two Bulls says, " Wanted to take the Latin alphabet, you know A,B,C,D,E,F,G and kind of do a Lakotacentric play on it, like A is for America. So I kind of took Uncle Sam as like this religious figure, you know. it's almost like the state we're living in. It's almost like an icon, "says Two Bulls.

And this piece, in progress, is a prime example,

"I kind of chose to not paint his face. Like it's this faceless person, this idea of America and where we're going," he says.

:of Two Bulls imagination stirring the imagination of the viewer.

"So, eventually I'll have like more Lakota elements into the piece as well talking more about what the US means to Lakota people, now and in the past," Two Bulls says.

And in the end, what will it all mean? Well, THAT all depends on who's looking at it

But his artwork is not his final destination. He and his wife are *both* artists, and they have a long term goal: 10 to 20 years from now... to open an Art School on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

If you're interested in learning more about his work, you find it on his website, Facebook page, or Instagram as well as on the Racing Magpie website.

If you've met someone cool "Along the Way" please call or e-mail us to let us know.