Bacone College announced Monday that Oglala Lakota artist Gerald Cournoyer has been promoted to vice president of development. Cournoyer has directed the renowned Bacone College School of Indian Art program since 2018. Michael Elizondo Jr., Cheyenne, has been appointed as the new director of the Bacone College School of Indian Art.
“Gerald is a great ambassador for Bacone College. He can tell our true story, the challenging and difficult times we’ve been through, and our transformation,” President Dr. Ferlin Clark said. “As a Cheyenne artist from Oklahoma with his experience and education, we are confident that Mr. Elizondo will encourage and inspire Native American students to pursue their art degrees at our historic school of Indian art.”
“Gerald rolled up his sleeves and physically, mentally, culturally, and spiritually engrossed himself in the rebuilding of our historic art program after it was discontinued several years before,” Clark said. “It is time now for him to lead our fundraising efforts to help Bacone College continue to thrive in our effort to refocus on our American Indian mission and our commitment to our American Indian students.”
Cournoyer holds a master’s of fine arts from the University of Oklahoma and a master’s in non-profit arts management which allows him to use his expertise in networking and developing relationships among those who support Bacone College. He is currently pursuing a master’s in philanthropy, as well.
“This is going to be a new and challenging experience with great rewards for Bacone College,” Cournoyer said. “I’m looking forward to working alongside the president and development team to move the college forward in a positive light as we prepare our students for the future.”
Elizondo also holds a master’s of fine arts from the University of Oklahoma. He has dedicated much of his career to teaching art and art history at various colleges and mentoring programs in Oklahoma. He maintains his studio practices and a passion for art. Elizondo was an adjunct instructor in 2012-2013 at Bacone College for former director Tony Tiger. His artist website is located at www.michaelelizondojr.com.
“It is an honor to be considered among the list of previous art directors in this school’s history,” Elizondo said. “When I was an art student, my research always led me back to previous directors such as Acee Blue Eagle, Woody Crumbo, and Dick West. I am happy and excited to have an opportunity to share my passion for the arts on this level. As Bacone is moving forward toward becoming a Tribal College, I look forward to seeing Native American students and non-Native students who appreciate the history of Native American art join the program from near and far.”
The Bacone College Art Department was founded in 1935, and was led by such prestigious directors as Acee Blue Eagle through 1938; Woody Crumbo through 1941, then again from 1943-1945; Walter Richard “Dick” West from 1947-1970 and 1979-1986; Terry Saul from 1971-1976; Ruthe Blalock Jones, 1979-2010; and Tony Tiger, 2010-2014.
Notable Native American artist alumni include all of the previously noted art directors and artists such as Virginia Stroud, who was an art major from 1969-1970; Willard Stone, a sculptor who studied under Blue Eagle and Crumbo and won national recognition while a student at Bacone; Solomon McCombs and Enoch Kelly Haney.