Why the International Folk Art Market Matters to So Many People - SantaFe.com
Folk Art Market Santa Fe New Mexico

Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market comes to Museum Hill in July, and the crowd is more than welcome. The market brings in some 20,000 visitors and since 2004, the International Folk Art Market has hosted more than 1,000 master folk artists from 100 countries in the world’s largest exhibition and sale of works by master folk artists. Artist earnings have exceeded $31 million and impacted more than one million lives in the communities they represent.

Is Folk Art Market an exceptional opportunity for shopping? You bet! But even better, great things happen when Santa Feans get together with talented craftspeople and artists from all over the world.

In 2021, some changes are being made in the interests of safety. One is that the market is two extended weekends rather than one, July 7 – 11 and July 14 – 18. Another is that tickets are for a two-hour shopping block, with the market cleared of shoppers between sessions. There will be different artists in attendance each week. Some sessions are already sold out, so get your tickets now if you want to shop this international market. The schedule and ticket information are here.

Let’s borrow from the International Folk Art Alliance’s mission statement and see how it’s carried out in one magical weekend.

  • The IFAA mission includes such inspiring goals as creating “economic opportunities for and with folk artists worldwide.” This means money is going directly into the pockets of the artists themselves, with a total impact on over one million individuals each year. Here’s how that panned out for Lila Handicrafts, a cooperative of women from a small village in Pakistan. The quilts they sell at Market have enabled these women not only to send their children to school, but to build a school in their own community, the Santa Fe Desert School.
  • Also from the mission statement, one of the greatest effects of “creative practitioners who leverage their handmade works” is “positive social change in their communities.” This means that the beaded collar you buy from Flor Maria Cartuche, a Saraguro Native from southern Ecuador, helped her community support a shelter for victims of domestic violence.  Compare the numbers: Her beadwork collective earned $26,000 in one weekend, while the average daily income per individual in Ecuador is $12.40. The shelter probably would have closed if Flor María and her fellows could not have sold their handiwork at the Folk Art Market.
  • Then there’s this dream, and as artists and contributing members of the arts community we cannot help but read it and cheer: “Our vision is a world that values the humanity of the handmade, honors timeless cultural traditions, and embraces the vision of dignified livelihoods for [all] artists.”
  • Ok, I admit I added the “all” to that statement, but isn’t that what the pursuit of art is all about? It may not be directly quantifiable, but then again, $3 million is a number worth noting, and nothing to sneeze at — not for New Mexicans in one of the nation’s poorest states, nor for any of the individuals from all corners of the globe who depend upon the International Folk Art Market to support themselves and their families and loved ones.

So go ahead and buy that gorgeous textile or stunning piece of jewelry: You just might be feeding a village.

For details, visit the International Folk Art Alliance at www.folkartalliance.org.


This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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