My real name is really WHITE BUFFALO. I am a proud member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. I grew up on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. I was raised by my grandparents until I was in high school, I always found ways to express myself creatively by drawing paper dolls, sewing, and embroidering with my grandma. Currently living in Los Angeles, CA after graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts. She majored in Integrated Studio Arts, emphasizing in drawing. I set out to educate others about my Native American heritage and the passion I have for art and my tribe.
Q: Being so far away from home do you ever get homesick?
No. I do, however, miss people KNOWING I was Native and being around my people. I miss the people that are there rooting for me, but they know this is where I am meant to be. It’s a little lonely out here sometimes when you feel like nobody is really like you or know where you are coming from… but I love Los Angeles and don’t plan on buying a plane ticket “home” anytime soon.
Q: When did you first discover your creative talents?
We had little money growing up and I loved paper dolls when I was little. But we couldn’t really afford them, so my grandma taught me how to make my own. It was cool because I could make the paper dolls look more like me and people I know, other than the typical blond hair, blue-eyed Barbie. I could also design whatever she wore too, which let my creativity go where ever.
Which one? They always go great for the most part. Sold some paintings at the last event, I always get a good response from people. That’s always a good feeling.
Combination of just moving here and the past couple months. Sometimes the reservation borders are mistaken for actual borders, meaning not a lot of people get off the rez. I graduated in a class of around 21 people (no, there is not a digit missing). I have always been very goal oriented. I have been told that there is no way I would be able to live in a city like LA. So moving here and proving them wrong and giving hope to the kidsback home that you can do whatever you want to do, is a huge accomplishment. As for the past couple months, I have just been living as strictly an artist. I had a “vision”. One morning, I couldn’t stop crying because I had this strange strange feeling that I had to quit my job and just do what I came out here to do… art. It was scary, because I was barely affording rent as is, but I did have some commissions that needed to be done and I found myself not putting my art first. Life is about taking risks and I took it. It’s a big achievement to take that risk, but I fully believe I will be successful.
I put a lot in my art. I am extremely passionate in what I do. I was a little confused and lost at first throughout college and when I first came to LA. I admit, I did shitty art and people loved it. I was trying to please others over myself. I think when it comes to me as an artist, I am only anartist when I create what I want to create. My best work has made me cry, smile, and it just emotional drained me. I get lost for hours in colors and the mediums that I use. I really care about my pieces that I put everything into and those are the pieces you can really see how much work, emotion, passion, and myself I put into it. I come from a dark background, where art was often the only thing I could hold onto. So passionate and driven is how I would explain myself as an artist.
Q: What has been your favorite piece you’ve created?
I really like what I have been doing lately (the buffaloes). The subject is personal and means a lot to me. It’s really a reflection of my people and culture. What it was and what it is today. I am really excited to incorporate more of what it was like for me growing up and things like that, because I have a lot that I need to get off my chest and when I do it in my art, I feel it’s something a lot of people can reflect on and relate to in some sort of way. The buffaloes have a strong meaning now, but I have a lot more to say.
Q: I know you were involved in this past years X-Games, how’d that come about?
I met a few of the crew last year. They saw me doing live art the year before. They remembered me. It was shocking when they called and I was extremely grateful. I worked with their company, which is based out of Texas.
Q: How do you feel about the current art scene in L.A.?
I love the LA art scene. It’s eclectic. I have seen a lot of amazing artists out here, you just have to go to the right kind of shows and look in the right places.
The moment when you are into your painting, kind of covered in it yourself… it’s 3am… you are completely out of the color you need. You didn’t want to stop.
Q: What is one book that everyone should read?
The Lakota Way by Joseph Marshall.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects?
Always painting everyday all day. Right now the sell is pretty consistent, so even getting enough canvas done to fill a space is a challenge… but that’s not anything to complain about. I am looking for some walls to do the buffalo on.
Q: What is your favorite/least favorite thing about L.A.?
My favorite thing is that during fall and winter there is no snow, ice, bitter wind that tears your face off. It’s amazing. My least favorite thing is the litter. It really bothers me. I even seen kids throw trash right on the ground in front of their parents and they don’t care. It’s really pathetic people can’t hold onto their trash for a moment longer to put it in the trashcan a couple steps away.
Q: If you had a friend flying into L.A. for 24 hours, where would you take them?
The beach during the day, The Observatory at night. Music or art event at night. And probably some place that we both have never been before. Oh and definitely a hockey game, if there wasn’t a stupid lockout!
Q: What is your dream project?
I really want to work in a bigger scale, way bigger than me… on canvas or wood (which I will be doing by the end of the year) and I really want to travel with my art. I want to someday go back to South Dakota and do some art for my community, reminding everyone that you can do anything.
Q: What do you dislike about the art world?
The admiration for bad art. There is a lot of bad art and some people need a reality check. I don’t want a reputation for being that person, but I have done it before. It needs to be done. I needed a wake up call at one point to when I was doing bad art, nobody gave it to me. It was a waste of everyone’s time, because nobody said anything. Eventually my best friend did say, “hey, I am really glad you are finally doing what you want… it’s a lot better quality of work, because you want to do it”. It was a little late, but I was happy for the confirmation.
Francis Bacon and Jean-Michel Basquiat are my two favorite artists. I draw inspiration from a lot of other artists as well.
Going to the game where the Kings won the Stanley Cup. It was amazing.I really love going to museums and attractions like LACMA, MOCA, the aquarium in Long Beach, etc. I totally geek out.
Q: If you had to define Renelle White Buffalo in 3 words what would they be?
Determined, Spontaneous, Buffalo
Q: Lastly, any words of advice for aspiring designers/artists?