Sweat Lodge Art Project

We wanted to incorporate the photos Dom and Erin took from our trip at Pine Ridge to create a visual representation of our experiences. As we began constructing our project our ideas continued to change. Originally we planned on creating a box shaped structure with socially constructed images of Native Americans around the outside and what we experienced contemporary native life to be like along the inside. The idea was that in order to better understand what Native life is like it requires effort and engagement. Getting down on ones knees to see the inside of our project is a symbol for how we all struggled in our trip as we began to understand this culture.

The following afternoon we saw Bently’s project and felt like our idea was perhaps too similar to his. From here we decided to take a more personal approach. We thought of using the shape of a sweat lodge to display our images. On the outside we could chronologically represent out interpretations of Native American life, from our early years to the days just before this class started. On the inside we thought we could show the photos we took at Pine Ridge to demonstrate how we currently perceive the Lakota tribe.

However, once Dom and Erin started gathering their favorite photos we realized there were so many that we wanted to include that we would again have to change our plans. There were enough photos from the Church ceremony inside the tipi to use to cover the entire inside. Also we incorporated orange lights to our structure and these went well with the mood of this series of photos. The outside now comprises of sequences of events, like the time we spent at Bear Bute, the feast for the kids, and parts of our first day at Mike Senior’s house.


We formed the dome shape out of dangerous chicken wire and used piping for the base. Next we wove lights into this wire structure. We used paper mache to cover the top. We then strung over 100 photos from the trip and assembled them along the dome with yarn, tape, and glue. Over all it was a surprisingly labor intensive project, but it has been really fulfilling.

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