William Leroy

William Leroy

William LeRoy “Billy”

Artist Statement

I include my Lakota heritage into most of my artwork. Whether I am painting, drawing, recording music, writing, acting, or disc golfing. I have been inspired by the members of my family as I grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in Rosebud, South Dakota. I have a love for drawing on anything I can get my hands on. Growing up poor, I was not able to afford the standard utensils an artist is required to use. I did teach myself to draw what I would see from memory. Whether it be the various locations I have visited, events, people, and the simple trauma and recovery around the reservation. I was taught the Lakota language as a child by my grandparents. Aside understanding the female and male dialects, I learned the old way of song and story, what is known as the oral tradition. Simple pictures would carry the weight of a thousand words. And if those words never change, all the stories and images will retain their power.

You will see my passion, still, to use color pencils, ball point pens, crayons, markers and #2 pencils in much of my work. As I matured as an artist, so have my utensils. I also use acrylic paints for the benefit that it dries faster than oil paints. I admit that oil paint is my favorite to use on canvas. I have learned to become a hobbyist with watercolor, pastels, carving, pyrography, silversmithing jewelry, sculpting, and designing tattoos, since I fell out of love with doing tattoos anymore. My hobbies are practiced by many artists in the area I live in, so it has become hard to be discovered by art observers and collectors. I enjoy the challenge of trying to attain my own style, because I enjoy presenting a fresh uniqueness through my creations.

Biography

I was raised in the Sicangu Lakota Oyate, of Rosebud, South Dakota. My families have taught me various lessons such as the four core values, the 12 virtues, the quality of man I was to become.  What stays with me the most from all my lessons are the songs and stories, the Oral Tradition.  “Grandson, if any of these words should change, then they will lose their quality of power. You must share them and keep them as they were shared with you.”  The words of my grandparents still echo in my mind as clear as the moment he told me.

My interest as an artist began with burnt sticks from fire pits and dried membrane from the inside of boiled turtle shells.  I would draw everything I see from memory. I would use my home-made charcoal sticks to draw on flat river rocks that I would also find. The wet dirt made an excellent canvas to draw into after we had rain in the valley. Sometimes, I would discover a small cave that had flat stone walls.  Then began my first acts of vandalism because I would draw just about anything to fill up the empty space on those walls. Eventually, I would go draw new images on those walls because the morning dew would wash away my charcoal drawings. My interest in art became a hobby, and that became talent, and that became my living.

I matured while advancing through educational levels, and I learned that there are ways one can expand as an artist. I figured I would have the upper hand by being a self-taught artist. Boy, did I get a life altering reality check. I went to college at Black Hills State University on a track scholarship, and while I threw shot put and discus, I studied Art, Art History, and Art Education. I also worked on music as a hobby because it was a faster way to express myself. I have always loved to write about where I grew up, what it was like to walk two worlds, and about what it was like to be considered one of the poorest kids on the rez.  Many children never stopped reminding me about how poor I was, and that inspired me since then. My experience with music and performing on stages with so many talents led me to landing a one-year contract with C.B. Modeling and Talent Agency, and that experience led to a contract with Big Fish Talent Agency in Colorado.

I still make the time to draw, paint, and create with what is around me, every day. I am fortunate to have the ability to focus my senses, harness my energy and let it channel into my mind, and my body follows, conjuring up astonishing ideas that become a reality. I continue to follow the Lakota teachings from my relatives, and they will find the stories and songs within some of my work.
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