Respected by the Whole World

“Anything that is created by human hands should be respected by the whole world,” said Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and Honorary Chair of the 2018 International Folk Art Market (IFAM) in Santa Fe.

As I wandered through the stalls at the Market last weekend admiring the astonishing folk art, I felt that deep sense of respect Dr. Yunus talks about. A strong and quite vocal appreciation, not only the artists’ work but for the cultures and traditions it represents was palpable. That 150 artists from more than 50 countries can gather together for a week of celebration and cultural and social exchange—along with thousands of market goers—is heartening.

Ikat dyers from Margilan Crafts in Uzbekistan display their stunning work.

Of course, I always look forward to visiting with Thrums Books authors and artisans who have been featured in our books, too.

This year, I caught up Amalia Guë featured in Deborah Chandler and Teresa Cordon’s book Traditional Weavers of Guatemala: Their Stories,Their Lives. Amalia was a finalist for the Living Traditions Award this year. The Award honors artists who exemplify IFAM’s mission by contributing to the preservation of culture through reviving and strengthening traditional techniques, and by ensuring their unique artforms thrive in future generations. You can learn more about Amalia, her cooperative—Ixbalam’ke—and her miraculous weaving in Traditional Weavers of Guatemala.

Guatemalan Weaver Amalia Gue in her booth at the 15th annual International Art Market

Next I found Maren Beck and Josh Hirschstein, authors of Silk Weavers of Hill Tribe Laos, representing Lao silk weaving artisans from Houaphan province. A crush of people eager to learn more about the natural dyes and to understand the symbols woven into the cloth filled their booth. You can learn more by reading their award-winning book.

Josh Hirschstein and Maren Beck wrapped in gorgeous woven Lao silk.

And Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez and Maribel Quispe Quillahuaman from the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) showed me some of the new designs and products the CTTC has created in their ever-expanding reach into the global market all the while maintaining their centuries-old textile techniques.

Rachida Ousbigh one of the button artisans featured in Susan Schaefer Davis’s book Women Artisans of Morocco was unable to attend the Market this year, but her gorgeous work was represented by the kind folks from The Anou.

Buttons crafted by the Women’s Cooperative of Khenifra in Morocco and shaped into necklaces make a feast of color.

I spent Saturday afternoon volunteering in the Multicolores Guatemala booth with authors Mary Anne Wise and Cheryl Conway-Daly, and representatives Aura Perez and rug-hooking artist Rosmery Pacheco. In addition to nearly selling out of the giant piles of exceptional hooked rugs, they did sell out of the advanced copies of their new book Rug Money: How a Group of Maya Women Changed Their Lives through Art and Innovation. (But don’t worry, the book will be available for it’s official publication day in September.) The book details the story of the Multicolores and its close relationship with IFAM. Icing on the cake was when Dr. Yunus visited the Multicolores booth. Despite his Nobel prize accolades, he understood and respected the challenges and the triumphs of Rosmery and her rug-hooking compañeras in Guatemala, and indeed of all the artists at the Market.

Rosmery Pacheco, a rug-hooking artist from Multicolores Guatemala shares a moment with Nobel Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus.

And then I bought myself a little something. An indigo-dyed Miao batik satchel by artist Yang Xiufen. I was curious about the design on the bag and through Yang’s translator Sarah I learned that it was a hybrid sheep-human-bird. Because, Sarah explained, the Miao believe everything is connected and truly there’s no separation or difference between living things. Exactly.

The Miao sheep-human-bird design.

Already looking forward to next year!




3 thoughts on “Respected by the Whole World

  1. Deborah Chandler says:

    I agree with Kate. Good job, Thrums, and good job, IFAM! And, of course, every artisan present (and all those who wanted to participate but could not get visas).

  2. Kate Colwell says:

    Sorry to miss the Fair, but you guys have done a great job of bringing the Fair to the rest of us. Beautiful things; beautiful stories.

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