11 Degrees of Tatanka

Jerry Fogg

For the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota people of the Northern Plains, oral histories preserve cultural traditions and create a bridge from that which was, to that which is now.

The Lakota origin story says that Tatanka (the American bison or buffalo) sacrificed his own body to sustain the First People. Referring to themselves as the Buffalo Nation, the Sioux are intrinsically bound to the mighty buffalo. 

In sustaining both the body and spirit of generations of Sioux, the power and sacrifice of this noble beast are also the very reasons Sioux oral histories survive today. Food, shelter, clothing, even artwork created from the physical body of the buffalo kept the oral traditions alive in a literal sense. 

The buffalo herds, once numbering in the millions, were hunted to near extinction in the late 19th century. Numbers have dwindled, but as a sacred animal of the Buffalo Nation, its spirit thrives. Yesterday, today, and forever, the First Peoples’ stories are written on the spirit of Tatanka.

In his gallery exhibition, "11 Degrees of Tatanka," artist Jerry Fogg seeks to honor the buffalo’s sacrifice in preserving Lakota oral histories. One of the ways the spirit of Tatanka is embodied in this exhibit is through the artist's use of painted buffalo skulls to depict Native traditions such as the sacred pipe ceremony, the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman, and star knowledge. As a mixed media Artist, Fogg uses traditional and contemporary materials in his work, blending the stories of those who came before him with his own.

"11 Degrees of Tatanka" opens February 25, 2019, and runs through May 24, 2019, in the Madsen/Nelson/Elmen Galleries of the Fantle Building. An artist reception will be held March 1, 2019, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. As part of our Saturdays at CWS series, the artist will also lead an exploration of the exhibition on May 4 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. All exhibition events are free and open to the public.

About the Artist:

Jerry Fogg, Ihanktowan Nakota Sioux Oyate, was born in Los Angeles, CA. He attended Flandreau Indian School in Flandreau, SD, and Dakota State College in Madison, SD. Growing up north of Fort Thompson, SD, on the Crow Creek Reservation, Jerry had many opportunities to observe and experience the openness of the country. This allowed him the freedom to choose the direction he wished to pursue and to explore different ideas associated with his surroundings. He evokes these same feelings within his art through his choices regarding both the individual elements to include and their arrangement, with all working together to enhance a legend, story, or the deeper meaning of his work.

A self-taught artist, Jerry began pursuing his artistic passions in high school and was inspired by the works of several Native American artists who came before him. His own compositions range from exceptionally detailed pencil drawings to paintings and mixed media works that blend traditional and contemporary Native American themes. When he creates, Jerry often concentrates on a period of specific historical significance or a legend. Collectors of his work can be assured that his mixed-media pieces are one-of-a-kind and never reproduced. He feels this is an important part of establishing the greater meaning in the piece for its new owner.