Eye on KELOLAND: The art of Will Menard


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — For Will Menard, painting and drawing is a therapy. Art helps him deal with stress.

“It helps me relieve that, so, it’s a good way for me to feel better about myself,” Menard said.

He’s a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

“People are losing their way, and this is a way for me to express how the native people were back in the day,” Menard said.

Menard lives now at the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, which offers a place to stay for people battling homelessness. The Sioux Falls shelter has a new art and activities coordinator who started a wall of art. It features Menard’s work.

“She’s displaying right in our lobby at the Bishop Dudley House all of the different artistic works that our guests have made, and we are just blessed to be able to showcase this art,” Executive Director Madeline Shields said.

Menard’s art offers more than meets your initial glance. Landscape, mountains, sky and stars immediately leap out. But a closer look reveals a pattern of stars in the shape of bison.

“I think it’s a great activity for him,” Shields said. “It can take his mind off of other things. You know, this COVID pandemic has been very, very stressful for many of our guests. For people who face homelessness, that’s just one of the issues that they’re dealing with. Sometimes they have a lot of anxiety, sometimes they have depression, sometimes they have addictions, and to be able to do other positive activities makes all the difference in the world.”

“I love seeing people’s eyes when they look at my artwork … makes my heart feel good,” Menard said.

Soon, Menard will have another chance to see the stars in people’s eyes at an upcoming benefit for the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House on August 29.

“If anybody wants to meet Will, we are having the Taste the Goodness event,” Shields said. “And he’s going to be down there. He will be working on some art, and you can see first-hand some of this art. We’re going to put some of his art on the auction, and we are just proud of Will, and we are proud to know him, and we just wish him all the luck in the world.”

“It’ll give me a chance to show people what I make,” Menard said.

His art is clearly pleasant to view. But maybe more importantly, it matters.

“They have meaning, and the meaning is the Native way of life,” Menard said.

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