IFAM 2016

The 13th Annual International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe Brings the World Together

“#1 Best Art Festival in the USA” — USA Today

“It’s like few other places in the world because it’s the world gathered all in one place.” — CBS Sunday Morning

July 8–10, 2016 — Museum Hill in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico — January 22, 2016 — In a village at the edge of a rainforest, a woman’s skilled and nimble fingers blend fabric and straw into graceful baskets. Their size makes them perfect for holding papayas, but they hold so much more. In them are the seeds of economic salvation, centuries of craft, tribal identityall worthy of preservation, passion, pride, and promise.

On a windy African plain, an artist uses the ancient art of indigo dyeing to create vibrant hues of blues on sublime textiles that are worn by fashion-forward men and women thousands of miles away.

This July, the International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe—already the largest of its kind in the world—will celebrate its biggest and most diverse Market yet, with almost 40 percent new artists, including more master artists and cooperatives then ever before. Close to 200 artists from every corner of the globe will bring their work to this vast and colorful international bazaar. Some will arrive as celebrated cultural artists, while others will have never before left their villages, let alone crossed an ocean.

Carefully juried by two panels of experts, the artists come from more than 60 countries and will bring jewelry, beadwork, basketry, carvings, ceramics, glasswork, metalwork, paintings, mixed media, sculpture, textiles, musical instruments, and more. Some are honored tradition-bearers, while others are young creators reinterpreting ancient forms. Their art ranges from highly affordable to museum-quality masterworks.

The result is an exhilarating shopping experience that affords often undreamed-of opportunities for the artists themselves, many of whom come from developing countries where the average income is less than $3 a day. In the past 12 years, 850 artists from 92 countries have participated in the Market, generating more than $23 million in sales, of which 90 percent has gone home with the artists. “One weekend in Santa Fe provides artists with the financial ability to radically improve their lives and their communities,” says Jeff Snell, CEO of the International Folk Art Alliance, the Market’s parent organization. “Past Market artists have gone home to build schools, houses, wells for clean drinking water, and much more.” Pakistani artist Surendar Valasai puts it this way: “We first made our quilts for our own personal use, but now the money from the sales of our work impacts the lives of all the artisans and their children. For us it’s a miracle.”

Some 20,000 visitors will experience the thrill of discovering one-of-a-kind treasures and meeting the artists who created them. And the experience will enable artists and shoppers alike a vital point of connection in an increasingly globalized but fractious world: the kind of intimate, person-to-person exchange that has always been at the heart of the Market. “Seeing these cultural treasures and meeting the artists creates a connectivity that stirs the heart, opens the mind, and invites us to speak a single language,” says Judith Espinar, co-founder of the Market and an internationally renowned folk art expert. “By keeping the vitality and cultural values of their homelands alive amidst a mass-produced world, the Market offers buyers a starting point for a journey that leads to the artists and stories behind their work. Every piece has meaning.”

For both artists and visitors, the Market engenders a very real sense of empowerment. Artisan work is the second-largest income-generating sector in the developing world, and social entrepreneurship is a centerpiece of the Market. “Providing a marketplace and business knowledge allows these artists to leverage the economic value and cultural beauty of their work to create social value that positively impacts their communities,” says Snell.  “Folk art has become an engine of enterprise, bringing opportunities to indigenous artists the world over.”

The Market fosters economic and cultural sustainability through a broad range of leadership initiatives and partnerships with global thought leaders, including the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, launched by the Aspen Institute and the U.S. Department of State to create a platform for companies, nonprofits, governments, and international organizations to support artisan enterprises. The Market also offers a hugely successful multi-tier training program, Mentor to Market, which provides folk artists with valuable business and marketing expertise.

“At the Market, folk art is not only sold, it is preserved. Economic seeds are sown, feeding the engines of commerce. Hope grows, bridges are built, wells are dug, and understanding spreads across the world. And that, more than anything, is the work of art,” says Espinar.

For more information, interview requests, and photos, please contact Clare Hertel at 505-474-6783 or clare@clarehertelcommunications.com.

Market Logistics: The International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe opens on the evening of July 8 and runs through July 10, 2016, at the beautiful Milner Plaza on Santa Fe’s renowned Museum Hill. Tickets go on sale May 1, 2016, and they are limited. For detailed information go to www.folkartmarket.org.

In 2014, the Market adopted a new name for its expanding parent organization: the International Folk Art Alliance (IFAA). This name better describes the broad range of training programs, new market opportunities, and multimedia projects the organization has embraced.

The IFAA also works with global thought leaders, including the Clinton Global Initiative, the Aspen Institute, and the U.S. Department of State, to support and grow artisan enterprises. In 2016, the Market will continue its highly successful training program, Mentor to Market, to provide an increasing number of folk artists with business and marketing expertise.

Other partners include the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, the Museum of International Folk Art, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, and the City of Santa Fe.