VSOlleen Farwell and her Dartmouth College roommate Tailinh Agoyo had not seen each other for some time when they reunited for a spa weekend in Santa Fe around five years ago.
“I wrote this children’s book, and I would love to bring it to the world,” Farwell recalled, telling Agoyo. I will carry you is a book about a native mother’s love for her daughter, and Farwell, who is Crow, asked Agoyo, who is Narragansett, to help her.
Agoyo had recently started a nonprofit called We Are the Seeds to celebrate Native American history, arts, and culture, and connected Farwell with Native American artist Eleanor Grosch to illustrate the book.
Those ties not only stayed strong, but came full circle.
We are the Seeds has continued to promote Indigenous artists through markets and community outreach since its founding in 2016, expanding its reach from Santa Fe to the East Coast as it strives to introduce Indigenous art to the world. authentic and high quality.
This story provides a sense of comfort as the organization prepares for another year in the face of the pandemic. Prospects for the We Are the Seeds art festival, which usually takes place in the summer, are uncertain at this time.
In 2020, the Seeds festival had to be canceled due to state-imposed pandemic restrictions, and Agoyo had to reimburse artists for their booth fees.
Last year, the group didn’t hold a two-day event, but instead hosted a grand opening at Form & Concept, a contemporary art gallery in Santa Fe.
Agoyo said she is hesitant to make any announcements in this year’s market, and Seeds is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“We are still in talks to have a presence in Santa Fe in August,” she said.
Nevertheless, the organization continues to make breakthroughs – and innovations – over time.
Several years ago, We Are the Seeds set up shop in Philadelphia after Agoyo moved there with her husband, Herman, and their four boys. The organization moved to an art studio on Cherry Street Pier, a historic shipping dock turned into a park and exhibition space.
Seeds opened its doors to the public for happenings and sold its gallery art.
With a staff of six, the group has also hosted two arts festivals on the pier, one in 2019 and the other in 2020.
“It was a smash hit, and I think Philly learned a lot about who we are and what we can do,” Agoyo said, adding that she’s planning another one for this year in September.
We Are the Seeds also recently launched a podcast titled From here, with a view featuring interviews with local personalities who are making a difference in the community. The organization also partners with local schools and museums to showcase local Indigenous art and culture.
“There are 14,000 people in the Philadelphia area who identify as Native, and to have an organization like Seeds that not only connects the immediate community – but the larger community – together. It’s really inspiring,” said Farwell.
Success elsewhere has brought a sense of accomplishment and pride as the band examines their roots in Santa Fe.
We Are the Seeds began in 2016 after Santa Fe Railyard Events and Marketing Manager Sandra Brice asked Agoyo if she wanted to hold an art market at Railyard Park to coincide with the annual Indian Market. .
Agoyo, along with Seeds co-founder and now chief curator of the Pueblo Indian Cultural Center Paula Mirabal, had worked together at the International Folk Art Market near the Railyard for several years.
“We knew the space; we knew how to produce a show there,” said Agoyo, who called the three-day event We Are the Seeds Santa Fe. The festival included music, food, performances, literary workshops, children’s art workshops and about 80 stalls selling Native American art.
“The focus was really on celebration – a feeling of openness, sharing and joy,” Agoyo said. “It was a space where we could really be ourselves.”
Agoyo, 50, who grew up in Rhode Island and raised her family in Santa Fe, also worked for several years as director of marketing and public relations for the Indian market of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts.
Agoyo said the Indian market attracts dozens of tourists from across the country and can seem overwhelming to some.
“We Are the Seeds had a lot of local community,” Agoyo said.
Indigenous artists sold paintings, pottery, clothing and more. Agoyo rented stalls only to artists whose work was handmade from quality materials.
“A lot of artists were doing our show and then heading to the Santa Fe Indian Market,” Agoyo said. “Two different vibes, two different opportunities and, in many ways, two different audiences.”
SWAIA held the Indian Market last year as a hybrid event, with artwork sold in the Plaza and live events streamed virtually. The juried art market is set to return to an in-person event on August 20 and 21, said Kim Peone, the group’s executive director.
Seeds recently expanded its online and in-person programming to include storytelling and dance performances, as well as moderated panel discussions — the group claims to have produced more than 140 programs in Philadelphia.
Agoyo and Farwell have teamed up again, along with their business partner Avery Amaya, to develop a new company called Project Antelope. The initiative will help Indigenous artists take control of their business and their story, with opportunities to engage with audiences around the world.
“Stay tuned,” Agoyo said.