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The charming little town of 80 people, Wasta, South Dakota, is an ideal location for the creation of an artist-in-residency program. With its proximity to extraordinary natural beauty such as the Black Hills and the Badlands National Park, the area is steeped in inspiring landscapes and historic treasures.

Three motel buildings owned by Larry and Adelaide Fuss and Fuss Properties will provide housing for the visiting artists and writers. The main motel building was used extensively in the filming of the 1992 Michael Apted film, Thunderheart, hence the name for this residency program. Screenwriter John Fusco was given this name by Grandpa Frank Fools Crow, an Oglala Lakota religious and community leader.

Wakinyan Cante'


  • Amenities: Each unit will contain a full kitchen, private bathroom, and living space.

  • Studios will provide 24-hour access for residents to pursue their work on their own schedule without interruption in a supportive environment.

  • Arrangements can be made for collaborative projects for up to four persons at a time.

  • Duration: The Thunderheart building(s) in Wasta will provide the foundation for the center with thirty artists and writers at a time coming for one to six months' visit.


The school building in town will be used for studio space with its auditorium used as a conference center. Another empty building in town will be converted into a gallery space for exhibitions of art created by the visiting artists as well as shows curated by invited guest gallerists and critics from around the globe.


Nicholas Black Elk, daughter Lucy Black Elk and wife Anna Brings White, photographed in their home in Manderson, South Dakota, ca 1910. Black Elk wears a suit, his wife wears a long dress decorated with elk's teeth and a hair pipe necklace. (Source: The Sixth Grandfather, edited by Raymond DeMallie p. 260)

Black Mountains

South Dakota

Residency Highlights

Art has revitalized communities throughout the world but particularly in America. There are countless examples of the establishment of culture within a city or town creating economic prosperity for its residents. With opportunities for housing already existent in Wasta, converting buildings to studio and exhibition space would be an easy transition. Open space could be used to create an outdoor sculpture garden with works of art being borrowed by artists from the area and beyond for a one to two-year loan. This outdoor space would be an ideal location for outdoor concerts and dinners, with the gallery space and school auditorium facilities serving as multipurpose venues for conferences, lectures, and performances.

In addition, the artists who come to Wasta for a stay will have the opportunity to create projects on the Pine Ridge Reservation and within the Rapid City school system on an ongoing basis.

Open Studios

In addition, each monthly rotation of artists will participate in a weekend of open studios with the public invited in to view and discuss the work of those in residence. Food, music, and presentations can be part of what we share with the general public on an ongoing basis.



One scholarship each month will be given to a Lakota artist whose work shows particular talent and originality. Visiting artists and writers will be able to explore Lakota culture directly including the possibility of attending some ceremonies and yearly events.

Community Benefit

The town of Wasta will thrive on the opening of new restaurants and coffee shops as well as other artisan-made items and collectibles. The restaurants in town could have a deli section with market staples and fresh fruits and vegetables. This would be an immediate success so that the people of Wasta would not need to travel to Wall or Rapid City for groceries. Collaborating with an existing health food store in Rapid City is a possible solution for the creation of a local grocery store.

Mia Feroleto produced her second conference on consciousness on the Pine Ridge Reservation in July of 2019. Her 2018 conference in Vermont attracted people from Seattle, Canada, Montana, New Mexico, Florida, Arizona, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Texas. This year people are coming from the same locations as well as Brazil, Europe, and Australia. Wasta is destined to become a center for the arts and intimate conferences. With the significant numbers of vacation goers in South Dakota during the warm weather, Wasta and the Thunderheart Center for the Arts will attract visitors from around the country and beyond. Feroleto is the creator of ARTWALK NY and the publisher of New Observations Magazine.


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With immediate access to I-90, Wasta, South Dakota can become a destination for creative people interested in spending time on the western frontier. During each rotation, several days will be devoted to bringing the visiting artists and writers to the local sites such as Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, the Black Hills, the Badlands, and the Wounded Knee Memorial on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

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