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Joe Williams

Director, Native American Programs

Plains Art Museum

Headshot of a person of light skin tone in a blue button-down shirt in front of a light brown wall.

Joe Williams (Waȟpéthuŋwaŋ Dakota from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate/Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota) is currently the Director of the Native American Programs at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, North Dakota. Joe has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Visual Effects from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and a Bachelor of Arts in American Indian Studies from the University of South Dakota.  

Joe is an artist, having conducted 18 murals over 20 years and a storyboard artist working in the digital medium. He has worked with Native American youth for the majority of his working life to date, in the social context as well as in the art field. From 1993 to 2007 he was part of the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute (OHSAI), first as student and then staff, which taught art to Native American high school students. He currently directs the Northern Plains Summer Art Institute, a summer program inspired by his work with USD that is staffed by former OHSAI staff. He is also the host of the podcast “5 Plain Questions,” a podcast that interviews Native American Indigenous creatives and change makers. The podcast is concluding its fourth season. 

Previous to his current position, Joe also served in the Army National Guard for 20 years, deploying three times overseas in service to his country. His last 10 years in the military service, he was a Civil Affairs soldier, which dedicated much of his time to problem solving social issues to assist in the well-being of civilians. 

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