Tailinh Agoyo doesn’t care much for other people’s definitions of what makes art indigenous.
“Everybody brings their traditions, that influences our art, but it’s not always what the outside world expects of ‘Native art,’ ” she said. “I always feel if you’re a Native person, anything you make is Native art because you made it.”
Agoyo and creative partner Paula Mirabal put together We Are the Seeds Santa Fe 2019, the third such event, planned Thursday and Friday at the Santa Fe Railyard Park to celebrate both traditional and contemporary Native art. Featuring 75 Native artists, both local and from across the country, it combines an art show, workshops and performances.
While the 98th Santa Fe Indian Market, in and around the Santa Fe Plaza, is this weekend’s main event, in recent years other events have sprung up throughout the week to celebrate Native communities, including dances, exhibits, films and fashion showcases.
Agoyo and Mirabal are directors at We Are the Seeds, a nonprofit nicknamed “Seeds,” started in 2016 to support and encourage indigenous artists. Both women formerly worked in marketing for Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, which puts on Indian Market, and on a event called Indigenous Fine Art Market.
Agoyo, 48, born in Brooklyn, N.Y., is a descendant of the Narragansett tribe in Rhode Island. She lived in Santa Fe for nine years while raising her three children near her husband’s Northern New Mexico family. In 2016, she moved to Philadelphia, where the nonprofit does most of its work, helping provide not just art shows but also education about Native culture.
Her goal is to give artists the opportunity to grow by sharing traditions, building collaborations and networking.
The quality and not the size of the show is important, she said.
Dawn Spears, 53, will lead a corn husk doll-making workshop. Originally from Rhode Island, the artist is of Narragansett and Choctaw descent. She started doll-making 30 years ago and also customizes and repurposes clothes and shoes by painting on them.
This is her second year at Seeds. She attended in 2017, teaching youth at a workshop to color and design their own shoes.
She grew up in a family of artists. Her mother did pottery, beadwork and photography and inspired her artistry.
Spears said she was put on the waiting list for a booth at SWAIA’s Indian Market but put her energy into Seeds.
“I’m here to do the good work,” she said.
Singer-songwriter Zachariah Julian, from the Jicarilla Apache Reservation, is stage manager for the second year. Last year’s lineup included opera singer Jennifer Perez and Renata Yazzie, a Diné classical pianist pursing her master’s degree at the University of New Mexico.
Growing up in Dulce on the reservation, Julian pursued music theory at UNM under Pamela Pyle. It was a journey he started 25 years ago, playing the piano at 12 and composing when he was 15.
He said he met Agoyo when he was hired for the Indigenous Fine Art Market, and they’ve collaborated on projects since.
Julian emphasized the value of networking and creative opportunities Seeds provides. He has composed music for Seed videos and released his first album, Grace EP, with These Marked Trees.
Julian said that in scheduling the lineup for the event, he considers the tension between traditional forms of Native art and modern art. “I like that friction, it’s stimulating and inspiring,” he said. “There’s a friendly competition. It pushes creativity and raising that bar as an artist.”
He said his job is to put bands together and bring in new artists to mix with fan favorites.
“I can go ‘off the reservation’ as it were, in terms of taste,” Julian said. “I like the obscure, but if it’s too obscure you lose people, so I like finding the balance.”
If you go
What: We Are the Seeds Santa Fe 2019
Where: Santa Fe Railyard Park
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday