The birth of the Racing MagpieForming a sense of community in the Indian art world
By Jaclyn Lanae
Native Sun News Today Correspondent
nativesunnews.today RAPID CITY - Racing Magpie owner Peter Strong sees art as a solution. A tool for communication, a vehicle for change. Maybe not the solution, but “a piece of the puzzle,” and he’s spent the last decade working to leverage the medium to bring communities together. He grew up in north central Ohio before attending college in West Virginia and then graduate school outside of Washington, D.C., studying history - always with museums in mind. “I was always looking at presenting history in an interactive way,” he elaborates. In 2005, he accepted a position as the Director of the Heritage Center at Red Cloud in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and found himself transitioning from a view of history as lessons from the past, to history as a forward-focused tool for community engagement. Strong began to see art and culture as part of a living community, and in his new role creating art shows and exhibits he was pulled into a new world; the world of art. Working later in the Rapid City offices of the First People’s Fund, Strong discovered a gap in the services available in the artistic community - particularly Native artists. “I was kind of waiting for something to happen that would support the process… artists in creation mode. I kept asking why there wasn’t something for native artists, a place to build community around art.” So Strong and his wife, Mary, shifted their focus and Racing Magpie was born. The couple wanted to create affordable studio space for artists, a gallery, and access to arts programming for the whole community - native and non-native alike. They envisioned a place where everyone feels some ownership, and all people feel comfortable coming together to learn, “and learn by doing.” Located on 5th street in downtown Rapid City, Racing Magpie has become exactly that. “We’ve got the building, the artists, the exhibit space,” Strong enumerates. Now they’re moving on to the bigger questions, the higher mission Strong set out years before; using art to deepen relationships with the community. If you would like to try, to participate, to communicate, connect, and create, check out RacingMagpie.com, visit the gallery, attend an event, or rent a studio space. Follow them on Facebook for more information as a schedule of 2018 classes will be available in the near future.
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