July 11–13, 2014, on Museum Hill in Santa Fe, New Mexico More than 150 artists from 60 countries come together to offer handmade masterworks
“It’s like few other places in the world
because it’s the world gathered all in one place.” CBS Sunday Morning “Collectors of folk art flock to the annual Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.”
The New York Times
“Consider the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market
an atlas of artisanship.”
National Geographic Traveler
Santa Fe, New Mexico—The International Folk Art Market, the largest of its kind in the world, has become a mecca for master folk artists. This July, more than 150 of them, from every corner of the world, will board buses, boats, camels, and planes to bring their work to this vast and colorful international bazaar. Some arrive as celebrated cultural artists, while others have never before left their villages, let alone crossed an ocean. They all bring centuries of craft, tribal identity, and the seeds of economic promise to this truly unique world stage.
This isn’t a basket, it’s a bridge. This isn’t a weaving, it’s a well.
Now in its 11th year, the International Folk Art Market draws close to 25,000 marketgoers over the course of three days. Held the second weekend of July in Santa Fe, itself a centuries-old crossroads of international culture and commerce, the Market showcases artists who offer beautiful work that draws on timeless traditions, while marketgoers experience the thrill of discovering one-of-a-kind treasures and meeting the artists who made them.
For both artists and shoppers, the experience creates a point of connection in an increasingly globalized world—person-to-person exchange is at the heart of the Market. From honored tradition-bearers to young artists reinterpreting ancient forms, these individuals bring art that ranges from the highly affordable to museum-quality masterworks. The artists bring basketry, beadwork, carvings, ceramics, musical instruments, glass, jewelry, metalwork, mixed media, paintings, sculpture, and exquisite textiles, all of which makes for an exhilarating shopping experience—and often undreamed-of opportunities for artisans the world over.
In the past ten years, 780 artists from 80 countries have participated in the Market—generating more than $17 million in sales, 90 percent of which has gone home with the artists. Many come from developing countries where the average income is less than $3 a day. A weekend in Santa Fe provides these artists with the financial ability to radically improve their lives and their communities: Market artists have gone home to build schools, houses, health clinics, wells for clean drinking water, and much more.
One young Afghan weaver who sells intricately hand-embroidered scarves and shawls is now able to afford to send her sisters to school. A 38-year-old grandmother from a remote village in Madagascar was able to provide basic electricity and water to her village. A Rwandan basketweaver supplied women with a home garden and mosquito nets, while Maasai beaders from Kenya were able to buy chickens to feed villagers during a terrible drought. A Niger silversmith made enough money at last year’s market to buy three months’ worth of food for more than 500 people in nearby villages. In the words of actress Ali MacGraw, longtime Santa Fe resident and Market supporter, this is “monumental money.” Pakistani artist Surendar Valasai puts it this way: “For us it’s a miracle.”
“People want what is real,” says Judith Espinar, founder of the Market. “By keeping the vitality and cultural values of their homelands alive through their art amidst a mass-produced world, the Market is the real thing. Each object becomes the starting point for a journey that leads to the artists and stories behind their work. When you touch a piece of extraordinary art, you can’t help but be touched by the artists themselves.”
This isn’t a fabric, it’s freedom. This isn’t a market, it’s a miracle.
Social entrepreneurship is a centerpiece of the Market. “Artisan work is the second-largest income-generating sector in the developing world,” says Shawn McQueen-Ruggeiro, executive director of the International Folk Art Market. “We recognize the incredible power that providing a marketplace and training for folk artists can bring. Folk art has become an engine of enterprise, bringing opportunities to indigenous artisans the world over.”
This past year, the Market adopted a new name for its expanding umbrella organization: the International Folk Art Alliance (IFAA). This name better describes the broad range of training programs, new markets, and multimedia projects the organization is now involved in. The IFAA also works with global thought leaders, including the Clinton Global Initiative, the Aspen Institute, and the U.S. Department of State, to support and grow artisan enterprises.
In 2014, the Market will expand its highly successful three-tier training program, Mentor to Market, to provide an increasing number of folk artists with valuable business and marketing expertise. Shopping at the Market is both fun and of fundamental value. A visitor can wander through booths of handwoven baskets, intricate beadwork, and vibrant embroidery; chat about the art with the artists themselves; and enjoy Ethiopian lamb stew, Mexican carnitas, Greek dolmas, and other foods from around the world. Live world music, from Latin rock to Japanese shigin chanting, are just some of the main-stage entertainment that will have both adults and kids dancing on the grass. And in the whirl of the Market, not only is folk art displayed and sold, it is preserved. Economic seeds are sown, feeding the engines of commerce. Hope grows, bridges are built, wells are dug, and un¬derstanding spreads across the world. And that, more than anything, is the work of art.
Market Logistics: The International Folk Art Market opens on the evening of July 11 and runs through July 13, 2014, at the beautiful Milner Plaza on Santa Fe’s renowned Museum Hill. The venue offers stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. For ticket sales and more detailed information, go to www.folkartalliance.org.
As a component of the International Folk Art Alliance, the International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe is a results-oriented entrepreneurial 501(c)(3) organization that provides a venue for master traditional artists to display, demonstrate, and sell their work. By providing opportunities for folk artists to succeed in the global marketplace, the Market creates economic empowerment and improves the quality of life in communities where folk artists live. UNESCO has been involved with the Market since its inception, particularly through its Award of Excellence programs. The Market is an active member of the Clinton Global Initiative and a founding member of the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, founded by the U.S. Department of State and the Aspen Institute. Other Market partners include the Museum of International Folk Art, the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, interview requests, and photos, please contact Clare Hertel at 505-474-6783 or email@example.com.