Art exhibit features Penn’s work

Art exhibit features Penn's work An art exhibition featuring the works of Omaha/Brule artist Robert Penn will be on display in Sletwold Hall of the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion from Feb. 7 through April 7.

A reception featuring two seldom-seen videos and comments by friends will be held Feb. 7 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Robert Lee Penn was born on May 3, 1946, in Omaha, NE, to Arthur Penn, a registered member of the Omaha Tribe, and Cornelia Stead Penn, a registered member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. He spent his pre-high school years in a boarding school before attending and graduating from St. Francis High School in 1966.

A short time after attending an Oscar Howe summer art workshop at The University of South Dakota, Penn enrolled at USD. A prot�g� of Oscar Howe, Penn was a work-study assistant for the internationally noted Sioux artist. Penn graduated in 1974 with a bachelor of fine arts degree from the USD College of Fine Arts; he also attended Princeton University and Syracuse University.

After graduation, Penn was an illustrator for the USD School of Medicine. He later served as an art instructor at Sinte Gleska College, Rosebud, Santee Community College, Nebraska, and Mary College, Bismarck, ND.

In 1986, Penn pursued his painting career full-time and returned to South Dakota to live and work on a 100-year old homestead near Vermillion. For several years he was the primary instructor for the Oscar Howe Native American Summer Art Institute at USD.

Penn's work is included in a number of public collections including those of the Smithsonian Institution, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the Vincent Price Gallery in Chicago. He has exhibited in 16 solo shows.

An accomplished muralist, his commissions include those at USD's Lakotah Hall, the W. H. Over Museum, the Denver International Airport, and the Rosebud Health Facility. In 1992, he received the South Dakota Governor's Award for Distinction in Creative Achievement in the Arts and in 1993, the University Art Galleries at USD organized a 24-year career retrospective of his work.

In 1998, Penn was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame. He died Feb. 7, 1999, in Sioux Falls, and was buried at St. Francis.

Sponsored by the University Art Galleries and the W. H. Over Museum, the remembrance celebrates the life and artistic talent of Robert Penn. Everyone is invited. For more information, contact John A. Day, dean, College of Fine Arts, 605-677-5713 or

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