photos & story: Janna Lopez
Walking through the International Folk Art Market—the world’s largest market and cultural festival of handmade work by master folk artists—brought incredible joy and immense pride to live in such an incredible place; a place that draws people who care so deeply about art, culture, and connections to the greater world. This annual event was a powerful reminder about the necessity and importance of cross cultural connections; to see ourselves as part of a much larger world.
The core values of the International Folk Art Market include: women’s empowerment, creativity, sustainability, cultural preservation, entrepreneurship and social impact. So not only is it an artistic triumph, it is a necessary, life-sustaining effort to support women, children, families, and entire communities all over the globe.
164 folk artists are here representing 49 counties from the farthest corners, to our nearest borders. The extent of countries present and represented was astounding. For many of these artists, over 70% of their entire annual income is made from the days showcasing their work in Santa Fe.
For a few short hours I was able to leave behind the heaviness of our country’s politics, division, fear, and uncertainty, and immerse into a desperately-needed reminder that the world, and the people in it, are vast, diverse, and hold timeless significance beyond here and now.
I throughly enjoyed seeing all the different faces, clothing, hearing all the unique languages, and welcomed into a spectrum of perspectives, backgrounds, and life experiences completely unlike my own. I spoke to people from all parts of the world, a rare opportunity I’d never get in other circumstances. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been around such a diversity of cultures in one place, at one time, brought together by the common cause of expression. It’s hard to put that feeling of collective belonging into words. It’s something rare, and I’m not sure where and when I’ve experienced it to this degree.
I enjoyed the mind-blowing displays of art, crafts, and creation. The colors, textures, fabrics, papers, materials, visions, constructions, objects, and products, were awe-inspiring. My artistic senses were completely overloaded, yet awakened by the unending applications of imagination. Each and every booth opened up my eyes and heart to marvel at the capacity of human expression.
The experience itself was seamless. I can’t imagine producing an event of this scope; the planning, coordination, foresight, the marketplace set-up, working with people in different time zones, who speak dozens of different languages, assisting individual vendors with individual needs and complications that arise, raising money to pay for all that’s needed, dealing with the city, and permits, and neighbors, transportation, accommodations, safety, food and beverage needs, clean up, coordination of receiving and distributing funds to individual vendors, staffing, volunteer coordination, training, and support. The amount of work that goes into making this event logistically, financially, creatively, and tactically happen, is beyond comprehension.
A warm thank you to the thousands of volunteers who generously helped with every detail, every step of the way, and to the incredible International Folk Art Market staff and board who tirelessly work to ensure the International Folk Art Market continues to delight, educate, sustain, and fulfill the greater mission of building enduring human connections.
For more information about the International Folk Art Market, or to donate or volunteer, visit www.folkartmarket.org