50 Artists to Watch: Lawrence Diggs

Lawrence Diggs.jpg“Art defines a culture. Art allows us to transcend our common communication limitations. Art can allow us to find parts of ourselves that can get lost in our daily struggle with life. This is why I am engaged in art. This is why I try to get others to engage in art.” – Lawrence Diggs

Roslyn South Dakota artist, Lawrence Diggs leads a fascinating life. He’s a writer and poet, actor and filmmaker, composer, photographer, painter… If it’s art, he probably does it.

Lawrence’s current focus is on creating short animated videos. These videos are used to spark conversations through interactive presentations. Making the videos has required the development and utilization of artistic skills ranging from poetry and public performance, to music composition and production, to photography and film making, to ceramics and watercolor.

According to Diggs, developing one skill set helps him to develop the others, which is why he’s interested in and experiments with many art forms.

“I use art to connect with others. I facilitate people learning art to help others find their voice and communicate with others. As a South Dakota Artist in Residence I facilitate people improving their verbal skills by encouraging them to write and perform poetry. I use art with inmates in the South Dakota prison system to help them find ways to connect with their humanity so they can become productive members of society. I use poetry with schools to encourage children in their struggle with finding their feelings and keeping track of those feelings with words. We call it poetry.”

Lawrence has worked with the Lakota Language Institute to establish a tradition of poetry in the Lakota language in order to make the unique sounds, experiences and wisdom embedded in the Language available to the rest of us. He’s also a teaching artist for the South Dakota Arts Council’s Artists in Schools and Communities program and actively works in communities throughout the state.

He is also creating a body of work in videos that is being used in our prison system to help create a calming atmosphere and spark difficult but critical conservations.

“Art is woven into the fabric of who I am, what I do and why I’m here.”

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