In a world without COVID-19, this week would have seen tens of thousands of people—folk art enthusiasts, shoppers, artists, volunteers, and more—converge on Santa Fe’s Museum Hill for the 17th annual International Folk Art Market. Alas, the event—one of Santa Fe’s largest and a huge economic driver for both the local region and the scores of international artists who participate—has been forced to go digital this year, like so many others.
In lieu of a fair in the flesh, IFAM organized a virtual festival taking place this week with streamed presentations and artist talks, culminating in a virtual gala and auction presentation Friday evening that will help fund the Market, artist education programs, and year-round public programming. The artist education programs, which typically take place in person in the week leading up to the market itself, offer master folk artists the opportunity to equip themselves with essential business skills needed to participate in the global marketplace. This year, IFAM has developed a virtual Mentor to Market program and added new content to help folk artists develop digital presence and online sales with support from volunteers and a key grant from the Adventures for the Mind Foundation.
An artist talk with Porfirio Gutierrez, Mexico, on the Importance of Innovation in Folk Art will be streamed on Wednesday, July 8, 12 pm (MDT). Gutierrez, a proud descendant of many generations of Zapotec weavers from Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico.
On Friday, July 10, 12 pm (MDT), Rashmi Bharti of Avani Earthcraft (a network of over 800 artisans in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, India), will give an artist talk on traditional textiles from the Shauka community, a nomadic group known for thulma—semi-felted woolen blankets—and chukta, a type of rug.
See the full list of virtual events, including the gala presentation Friday, July 10, at 7 pm, at folkartmarket.org/ifam-vow.
The images featured here were originally published in our 2018 article “The Folk Art Universe,” by Alicia Inez Guzman, which untangled some of the social and economic complexities of the international folk art marketplace:
Often, social entrepreneurship has become a kind of salve for poverty, overpopulation, energy, food shortages, and lack of women’s rights in places where colonialism and imperialism have made their greatest impact (think extraction of resources, imposition of capitalist forms of exchange, along with entirely other bureaucratic systems and the subsequent divisions in race and class). As IFAM has pointed out, many of the artists come from developing countries where wages can be less than five dollars per day. Adekaye Adebajo describes the imbalance between the rich North and the Global South as a form of global apartheid of which these wages are one marker. For Gutierrez, making textiles is a way of sharing an art form and thus preserving the method of using natural dyes, but he’s also very pragmatic about what his family is doing: “As any culture deeply attached to what they make, it’s crucial to create an income; otherwise, we won’t eat.”