Pollen Path was a one-night, pop-up art exhibit at Lost Eden Gallery (located at The Gateway, 71 S Rio Grande St.) on March 5, 2022. With over 60 participating artists, Pollen Path was a resounding success, and all pieces went for less than $500 with proceeds going toward Carry The Water—a new Indigenous Community healing garden in SLC.
This exhibit wasn’t only a viewing experience; it was an immersive event as there was an Indigenous food tasting, Navajo tea served and cocktails made with Indigenous ingredients. While the food and drink was delicious, what really set the tone for the evening was hearing directly from the Indigenous community.
Roy Tracy (Diné), started with a traditional Navajo prayer and gave important insight on his ancestral roots and full name. During the prayer, Denae Shanidiin blessed the audience by lighting dried sage and using feathers to spread its smoke. Once the prayer was complete, Shanidiin passed the sage to her mother, Sandra Lee, to continue the blessings while she took the microphone. Shanidiin shared her journey of being an Indigenous woman in Utah, a state that ranks in the top 10 for missing and murdered Indigenous women. She spoke with candor and courage as her journey has led her to where she is now, ensuring that the future of the Indigenous community is heard and supported.
Following Denae was Yolanda Francisco-Nez with MMIwhoismissing, an organization that seeks to bring clarity and light on how Indigenous people are murdered at a rate 10 times more than the national average. Francisco-Nez spoke on what is being done to ensure a safe and supportive environment for the Indigenous community and was honest in her words, saying, “We can do better.”
The final speaker was Kalama Ku’ikahi Tong. Tong is from the Big Island of Hawai’i and spoke on how Indigenous communities are able to come together and support one another. He spoke honestly on what he’s seen from his perspective as a man and his observation of the women around him. By the time Tong was finished speaking, every person in the gallery had been blessed with not only the sage but with hearing each speaker’s individual experiences and insight.
After the speakers, the event was filled with connections among the attendees, discussing the food they were all eating to the differing mediums used by the artists on the walls. The more time went by, the more art pieces were being marked as sold. The event was more than a success and displayed what the Indigenous speakers spoke on most—community, understanding and support for one another.