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Stories from our Travelers

Transforming Lives at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market

Sophia Ruiz Lorenzo of Mexico
creates traditional handmade candles

The 2008 Market

Julia Mutale of Zambia brought
handwoven baskets to the 2008 Market
Zodwa Maphumulo practices izimbenge, a form of basket weaving using coiled telephone wire, in her native South Africa. Zenobia Paricela, a young Quechua woman from Peru’s windswept Andes weaves narratives into her hand-embroidered textiles. Agnes Papatit fashions brightly colored beads into art and everyday objects in her Maasai village in Kenya. And Rangina Hamidi, originally from Afghanistan, has established Afghans for Civil Society to share weaving techniques and ideas among the artists of Kandahar.

For the past six years, women like Zodwa, Agnes, Zenobia and Rangina have traveled continents to participate in the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. They are just a few of the women – and men – whose lives, families and communities have been transformed through their art. Established in 2004, the mission of this annual market is to encourage cultural and economic sustainability for folk artists and folk art worldwide.

Artists from 45 countries have been selected to take part in the 2009 Market. Textile artists from Afghanistan, rug weavers from Kyrgyzstan, and basket weavers from Rwanda are among the artists in Santa Fe, New Mexico, telling their stories through their art. As Judith Espinar, a founder of the Market explains, “it would take a lifetime of travel to find and buy the exceptional folk art treasures that are readily available at the Market.”

But the Market is about more than just a shopping experience. Over 90 percent of the Market’s sales go home with the artists. According to Market organizers, artists’ proceeds have assisted in building schools, developing healthcare clinics, and bringing much needed food, clothing and medical care to impoverished corners of the world.

Equally important, the Market provides participating artists an opportunity to share their traditions and culture in an open and respectful setting. Elise Hansen of Haiti’s Center for Artistic Training says, “One of the reasons that it felt so good to be among artists from around the world was because this event was honoring them. As we know, life has been cruel to traditional, indigenous and peaceful cultures - those who now suffer at the bottom of the global socio-economic pyramid. Yet, what could be richer than seeing people through a clear cultural lens, and naturally giving everyone the highest level of respect?”

For more information, visit Santa Fe International Folk Art Market

Photo Credits (preview page and top to bottom):
Djarga Mira of Tibet, China at the 2008 Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, Photo © Judith C. Haden.
Sophia Ruiz Lorenzo of Mexico at the 2008 Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, Photo © Judith C. Haden.
At the 2008 Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, © A Polished Eye. All rights reserved.
Julia Mutale at the 2008 Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, © 2008 Bud Ellison. All rights reserved.

- Melissa Cicci, Editor

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