Does folk art have to be old-fashioned to be authentic? The International Folk Art Market doesn’t think so. At this year’s event, July 14–16, some traditional art forms go contemporary with the introduction of an innovation category, blending folkways with 21st-century creativity.
It’s a novel idea for a time-tested event. Every summer since 2004, the world has come to Santa Fe—160 artisans and craftspeople from 53 countries sell their jury-selected wares during this jaw-dropping assemblage of weaving, woodworking, metalworking, and much more. Before the market, panel discussions, demonstrations, parties, and performances help folk art die-hards gear up. Now, even returning shoppers will find some totally new stuff.
“The best way to keep a tradition alive is to keep it relevant,” says Keith Recker, an International Folk Art Alliance board member. Thirty vendors won the right to sell new takes on time-tested techniques. Mexico’s Carla Fernandez applies traditional patterns to cutting-edge fashions (a first for the market).
The father-daughter team of Fatullo Kenjaev and Zarina Kenjaeva return with their Uzbek textiles, this year remixed in nontraditional ways and inspired by each other’s techniques. India’s Manisha Mishra, who provided last year’s poster art, breaks into the third dimension with delicately hand-painted sculpted heads.
The artists themselves are thrilled to bring experimental works to New Mexico. “They’re amazed,” Recker says. “Artists don’t want to do the same thing every day. We’re just as excited to engage with the creative edge.” (505) 992-7600; folkartalliance.org