Jennifer Rae Umolac
If you had told me 2 years ago that I would be carting around a picture of Prince and setting up mobile shrines around Minneapolis, I would have told you you were crazy.
I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis in the 1980's, at a time when Prince was like the air you breathe, omnipresent, yet somehow invisible. His music provided a backdrop to my high school years, but I was never really a fan, per se. His link in my life came mostly through my years of travel when, all around the world, the person people associated with my hometown, was Prince. I embraced the coolness that sharing a city with Prince brought, and over the years had many great conversations with people about their love of Prince.
Fast forward to April 21, 2016 when, during a traditional ceremony in Puerto Rico, I received the news that Prince had died. I came home 3 weeks later, and made my first ever visit to Paisley Park. I was so moved by the tributes and memorials gathered there, and felt inexplicably drawn back time and time again to pick up garbage, remove dead flowers and keep that space of tribute clear. When the fences were no longer allowed to be used as a gathering site for people’s grief, I realized that I could bring a space of reflection and connection to the places where Prince fans were gathering, and thus was born the mobile shrine.
In the 2 years since Prince has passed, I've met hundreds of people who have come to honor Prince. I've held their stories and shared their tears and watched with wonder as my own hometown has become a pilgrimage sight. It's an odd anointing, this Keeper of the Shrine role, but one that has been a joyful and unusual way to give thanks for all that Prince has been, and continues to be in our lives, especially here in Minneapolis.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, just a few miles from where Prince grew up. Currently residing in Brooklyn Center in the summertime and Puerto Rico in the winter. I'm a dedicated wanderer, lover of beauty and conduit of healing. I spend my time traveling, sharing my gifts of healing touch, and, as of late, honoring Prince.