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ARS-Americana Debuts With a Collective Collage
“What Do You Want To See In An Art Community?” By Anna Cole

A-R-S is Latin for art...but actually means the "highly skilled work" or method of art. The last A in ARSA stands for Americana - classic and full of community.

ARSA’s Community Day at the Caille Library on Saturday, May 21st, was the second event of a new organization that took root in Sioux Falls in February 2022, and aims to provide “encouraging, ethical, and truthful art in our communities”.

The event, hosted by founder and CEO Hannah Van Steenwyk, provided a collaborative art environment for all ages that was free and open to the public. Using four large-scale poster boards and markers for guests to draw with, the event prompted the community to share their vision, in answer to- “What do you want to see in an art community?”

Van Steenwyk explained that she chose the materials for their simplicity and accessibility, and drew sketches on small pieces of paper to provide ideas and help people feel more open about expressing themselves. She discussed the way that even children have, over-time, become more afraid of making mistakes, but says that “art is one area for healthy, constructive criticism,” due to its subjective nature. “That skill has been lost,” Van Steenwyk says.

"ARSA’s Community Day is designed to be a space where everyone can create art without the fear of making mistakes," Van Steenwyk shares.

Over the past eight years, Van Steenwyk says that she recognized a growing need for an art agency within South Dakota. “South Dakota needs an art agency,” Van Steenwyk tells The Dakota Leader, "I felt called by God to create an organization that is able to provide sustainable artist residencies in addition to hosting events, workshops, and competitions in Sioux Falls."



It took years to build upon the initial idea for ARSA, due to the challenges of securing funding after becoming a non-profit organization. As many great artists often do, Van Steenwyk was focused on more than one thing at a time. "As an artist, I strongly believe that you don’t need to do one thing with your art career, everybody can be creative, no matter what their primary source of income is or how they spend their time." She believes that art is everywhere, and that everyone has the ability to create and contribute beauty to this world. "Everyone can bring art to their day jobs, if you work at a gas station, why not ask your boss if you can draw with sidewalk chalk during down time and bring more customers in that way, for example?" Van Steenwyk also described how someone can work as an accountant and still be artistically-minded, finding the expressive side of that job, even if it isn’t obvious.

As a Christian, Van Steenwyk has observed that there are many conservative Christian artists in South Dakota who don’t feel as though they can participate in the art community, due to political bias. However, as Van Steenwyk emphasized, “art is not a left or right thing, and our mission at ARSA is to help everyone express themselves artistically." Van Steenwyk shares that she wants to use the inclusive, welcoming energy of her events to bring hope back to people, especially after the disruptions of the last few years, resulting in pandemic restrictions.

ARSA will be hosting a second Community Day at Siouxland Downtown Library on Tuesday, May 24th, from 6-8pm. Free pastries will be provided by La Luna Cafe, and guests can continue to draw on the poster boards, which will be on display at La Luna Cafe, once completed. Tuesday night’s event will also feature an announcement about what ARSA’s new space will look like, and what opportunities, events, and residencies will soon be made available to the public. ARSA will also be offering more information at their booth at Union Gospel Mission’s "Rock the Block Party" on May 29th from 11am-5pm at 701 8th street. Artists who are interested in getting involved can find more information and sign up for ARSA’s newsletter at Arsasd.com.

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--Anna Cole- Arts and Entertainment Columnist for The Dakota Leader

Post Date: 2022-05-23 17:12:41Last Update: 2022-05-23 14:44:51


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