Art has the power to change lives. Whether it’s ink on your body forever inspiring you in life or a custom painting donated to help raise money for a good cause, art both brings people together and allows us to talk about important issues through a new and creative angle. This was the mindset of Pat Sullivan as he put together the upcoming art show The Warriors Fund.
The Warriors Fund is not your typical art exhibition, as it will be doubling as a silent auction to raise money for the children who attend the Wounded Knee District School. Home of the Warriors, this K-8th grade elementary school is located on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and focuses on expanding the primary and cultural education of the children of the Lakota natives. Almost one hundred miles away from the nearest grocery store, the school and reservation is geographically separated from many modern day conveniences leaving many of the 134 students who attend the Wounded Knee District School hungry. In an attempt to help supply funding to stock the school's pantry, Sullivan began work on The Warriors Fund.
For this upcoming art show, Sullivan has reached out to 75 incredibly talented tattoo artists from around the nation and asked them to donate original pieces to be auctioned off. Several of the artists contributing to this amazing event include Dave Wallin, Betty Rose, Justin Weatherholtz, Scott Sylvia, Andy Perez and Nash Hogan. All of the money raised from the auction will go towards funding the food pantry at the Wounded Knee District School and feeding the little Warriors who attend it. The event will be held at the tattoo studio Eight of Swords in Brooklyn, NY on Friday, March 6th at 7pm. We caught up with Sullivan himself to get a little insider info on this upcoming event. Here’s what he had to say:
What first inspired The Warriors Fund art show and silent auction?
It all really started with one word: food. After donating online, I'd gotten in touch with the principal of the Wounded Knee District School, Alice Phelps. I wanted to do more, so I asked Alice, "What can I do? What do you need?" And she said, "Food." That was kind of a gut-punch. All of the students qualify for meals in school during the day, but most, if not at all, need assistance at home. Feeding America comes out to do a food distribution once a month but the need is a lot greater than that, so Alice started her own food pantry that she runs out of the school. When I talked to her I discovered the nearest grocery store is 80 miles away and these Kindergarten-through-eighth graders often go home to empty cupboards. I felt like I needed to do something about it and kind of took Alice's example. Kids aren’t getting enough food? Start a food pantry. You need food for the food pantry? Do a show and raise money to get that food.
Why hold an event exclusively auctioning work by tattoo artists working outside of the tattoo medium?
I'm a tattooed guy; I'll keep getting tattoos and looking at artwork usually somehow related to tattoos. It seemed like a natural fit. The crew at Eight of Swords has hosted fundraisers before that I've attended, so I talked to Dave [Wallin] and Betty [Rose] and they've been awesome helping me out. I also wanted to see what tattooers would come up with. There are plenty of obvious go-to designs that have been running through tattooing forever, but so far it seems like everyone's really pushing themselves to think a little more outside the box. The show doesn't have a theme really, but I knew a lot of artists would want to do something with a native theme. I just thought it would be something different.
Who are some of the artists you are excited to see work from?
I'm stoked for all of it. To think you can get so many people on board for a cause they may not know anything about is both incredible and also incredibly humbling. However, I did somehow manage to get a lot of tattooers on board whose work I really love: Scott Sylvia from Black Heart, Mike Aul from Spiral, and Timothy Hoyer. And Matt Arriola did a really rad t-shirt design, too.
What drew you to want to hold the event at Eight of Swords?
Dave Wallin has been a good friend for ten years now. He was one of the first guys I met when I moved to New York in 2005. He tattooed my dumb ideas on me and never made me feel dumb. He also tossed me a bunch of magazines and books and said, "Read these," and pointed me in the right direction when it came to other tattooers, shops and books.
This event clearly promotes a high quality of art. How do you see art and the education of our nation's youth correlating nowadays?
I'm not sure I'm qualified to speak on that, but when you start taking away certain classes or making more time for one subject over another, you're shooting yourself in the foot. We should probably add some sort of "empathy" class to teach people to be fucking human beings to one another. Kids need art and music just as much as they need science and math, if not more. Everyone should be reading more books. Most of this [fundraiser] came out of reading books, and possibly listening to Rage Against the Machine when I was 12.
Take a look at the gallery below for a preview of some of the incredible art up for auction and make sure to stop by The Warriors Fund art show and silent auction at Eight of Swords on March 6th at 7pm.