I recently had the opportunity to volunteer and teach at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. "The 9th Annual Santa Fe International Folk Art Market Changes Lives and Celebrates Traditional Art and Culture from Around the Globe", and held July 13-15, 2012 in New Mexico. What an amazing experience -- on so many levels.
First, there is the event itself, the largest of its kind in the world. Now in its 10th year, the Market is a spectacular of culture, color and tradition. This year some 180 artists represent- ing 50+ countries from every corner of the world were selected to participate. These master craftsmen, some times traveling days to take their first plane, to come to Santa Fe, sell their crafts, and support their communities. Many are women, most represent a cooperative of artisans from their local communities, whose art provides the financial means they would otherwise not have. By shopping at the market we provide the resources.
Second, there is the quality of the artwork which represents the best of their countries' crafts, at less than 1/2 the price that crafts of their quality would demand in the US, all hand made from local products, and all to be found in a single location. Treasures to be found included: loom woven Zapotecan Rugs, hammered silver from Niger, batiks from Indonesia, Bushman baskets and bangles, woven sisal from Guatamala, Yoruba panels, Cuban paintings and so the list goes.
Third, is the organization itself: a tiny staff of six and senior executive Advisory Board, to manage the training and logistics for 180 artists, as many NGO's and translators, 90 mentors (trained to help the artists at the show and beyond), and some 2000 volunteers all of whom work their hearts out to help make the event a success.
And finally is the magic of Santa Fe, the endless horizon, the breath taking mountains, the adobe homes, the opera, museums and arts.
I was honored to be a part of it and will certainly return next year. For those who wish to volunteer or shop or both, I can't recommend it more highly.