Running from July 13th-15th in New Mexico next month, the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, which gives 90 per cent of its profits back to its participating artists, has the potential to help a lot of people.
An annual occurrence in Santa Fe, this year’s market is shaping to be a big one. Now in its ninth year, the market was founded by Santa Fe art lovers Charlene Cerny and Judith Espinar. According to Espinar, the idea for a folk art market in Santa Fe truly flourished when the pair contacted UNESCO to help them find artists to participate.
"(They) said come to Paris, look through the files. We'll give you 10 Gold Medal winners," she said
Cerny was keen to join in the project as long as there were no more than 25 participating artists. Her wish was granted, with the first year of the market hosting 18 different artists. Since then, things have changed a bit, and this year’s market will feature more than 150 artists across 49 countries who will travel to Santa Fe to sell various items such as scarves, jewellery, rugs and baskets.
Since its humble beginnings, the market has raised more than $12 million, with more and more new artists getting onboard the project in order to sell their work. Espinosa and Cerny spend most of their time recruiting new artists, a feat which is accomplished through the help of a jury which vets applicants and offers financial assistance to first-time participants. Artists are also offered training in order to help them better market their work in preparation for the upcoming event.
Mary Padar Kuojok is a first-time participant this year, where she plans to sell handmade beaded corsets.
"I asked her if she knew how to make something traditional ... and it was beautiful," Roots Project founder Anyieth D’Wol said
In order to sell her fifteen handmade corsets, Kuojok will have to take the second trip of her life. A South Sudan native, Kuojok has only left her country once, and that was in order to acquire a visa from Nairobi. According to D’Wol, the Roots Project helps women work on their business skills while retaining important cultural traditions.
"When I first started working with the women, it was 'What do you know how to make?' I had no idea what they were. They are not documented and many of the items are rarely even worn by the tribes anymore," she said
Many of the artists taking part in this year’s international folk market will be established professionals, but approximately 40 per cent will be total newcomers. The market’s appeal certainly continues to flourish, and the fact that it is renowned for helping people all over the world only adds to its appeal.
"More and more people are looking at they do as a vote for what they care about," Cerny said
. "... They are getting the idea that they are helping build a school in Pakistan, helping put a roof on a women's shelter."