donald brewer wakpa - painter
“I was raised to be proud of my heritage. I consider myself a progressive contemporary painter. I try to capture the pride and spirituality of my people, blending traditional with contemporary.”
Wakpa, is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. He grew up in Thornton, Colorado. While he attended public school there, each summer he would return to his mother’s family in Cheyenne River or his father’s family in Pine Ridge where he was taught the values and traditions of the Dakota Lakota people. During high school he started painting, a talent he would develop and that would later become a career now spanning more than 20 years.
His Lakota name means “river”. Wakpa was his great-grandmother’s family name. When he was a child she advised that if he used the name in a good way, he would be helped by the Spirits. He says, “My life is like a river, many experiences have led me to drastically different settings, as tributaries feed a river on its way to the ocean.”
Wakpa served in the U.S. Marines for four years. He returned to Colorado with the decision to make art his life’s work. Realizing the words of his grandmother were a prophecy, he made Wakpa his artist name.
He is renowned for his use of color and the contemporary overview in his paintings, with just a touch of realism. His paintings are influenced by impressionist and abstract artists. Through his work, Wakpa strives to touch people, particularly the spiritual aspects, which, at times, are hard to reach and explain.
His vibrant, culturally inspired contemporary paintings are in collections throughout the world. His imagery has been used for the University of Nebraska Press book, “Luther Standing Bear”, and a CD cover for Silverwave Records. Presently, his works are in the Akta Lakota Museum, Chamberlain, SD, Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge, SD, Crazy Horse Museum Custer, SD, Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) Chicago, Illinois and the United Tribes Technical College Collection, Bismarck, N.D.
Wakpa lives in Colorado.