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Textile Artists Shine at the International Folk Art Market-Santa Fe

 By Mary Littrell

Question:  What ensues when 180 artists from 60 countries join with 1,700 organizational volunteers and 22,000 shoppers?

Answer:  The 10th International Folk Art Market of Santa Fe, the largest folk art market in the world held from July 12-14, 2013.

Customers examine products from Uzbekistan on market opening night

As the market days approached, the plazas and parking lots on Museum Hill in Santa Fe transformed into a decorative, tented bazaar, with music and ethnic foods adding to the festive atmosphere. Sixty-six (44%) of the 149 artist booths offered textiles produced by individual artists, small groups, and large cooperatives. Sales reached a record $2.6+ million, with artists taking home 90% of their earnings. For one weaver who formerly earned $400 a year, her cooperative’s sales of $36,000 provide the opportunity to build schools and educate children, upgrade and construct new homes, and purchase critical medicines for treating chronic health problems. The artists are building leadership skills, preserving their traditions, and enriching their communities.

An artist’s journey to the market starts with a detailed application describing the traditionality and artistic quality of the textiles. A market screening committee, composed of seven regional craft experts, rigorously reviews the 400+ applications for jurying 35% of the applicants into the market. Once accepted, first-time attendees (ranging from 30-40% each year) have opportunities for business development seminars prior to start of the market. The 1,700+ volunteers come from across the US and abroad to “work the market,” helping with handyman set-up, pricing and merchandising, creating booth displays, and assisting with sales. Across the market’s three days, artists, volunteers, and customers create an international community as they examine and discuss the artistic products, share stories, and learn about each other’s daily challenges and successes.

Mary Littrell, Market Screening Committee and TSA member, meets with the Kendjaeva family of dyers, weavers, and embroiderers from Uzbekistan

Textiles artists and their booths offered a feast for the eyes at this years market, including…

Felt rugs and scarves from Kyrgyzstan

TSA Member Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez
Weaving and knitting from Peru

Embroidery from Afghanistan

Natural dyed wall hangings and fabrics from South Korea

Woven clothing from Mexico

To mark its 10th anniversary, the market published a visually stunning and scholarly book that highlights the importance of artisan production in the lives of the world’s artisans.  The Work of Art: Folk Artists in the 21st Century by Camella Padilla is published by IFAA Media. Look for it soon on Amazon.com.

The 11th annual market is set for July 11-13, 2014.  For those who would like to join the growing number of TSA members who serve as market volunteers, contact Mary Littrell at mary.littrell@colostate.edu.  Members who volunteer repeatedly comment that meeting and working with the artisans is a highlight of their year. New friendships are forged that continue for jointly making a difference in artisans’ lives.