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Zahra Bundrage is a recent Masters Graduate from the University of New Mexico who wrote her thesis dismantling traditional ideals of beauty. She has recently begun her career as a freelance writer.

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It’s one of the largest and most diverse folk arts festivals of its kind in the world. The International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe (IFAM) also creates economic opportunities with artists worldwide who celebrate and preserve folk art traditions. According to IFAM’s website (folkartmarket.org/), IFAM envisions a world that values the dignity and humanity of the handmade, honors timeless cultural traditions and supports the work of folk artists serving as entrepreneurs and catalysts for positive social change.

The Market, which has always drawn in large crowds from around the world, will take place on Museum Hill in Santa Fe. This year the event spans over two weeks in order to reduce the number of visitors attending at one time due to the pandemic. The Market will feature artists from several countries including Africa, India, Mexico, South America, Uzbekistan and Palestine. IFAM will have 58 booths set up for artists displaying their handmade crafts. People will be able to come meet the artists and purchase their work. 

The theme of this year’s 17th annual IFAM, as stated by CEO Stuart Ashman, surrounds six essential pillars. Innovating and inspiring by showing how the past meets the present through design. Creating sustainability by necessity and by design through continual practices and creative processes. Showcasing women’s empowerment by showing women as breadwinners and leaders in society in order to reach their full creative potential. Community outreach showing artwork on a global scale through an artist mentorship program catering to market artist entrepreneurs. Hands-on skill-building, peer-to-peer learning and long-term support for folk artists to help them improve their livelihoods and participate more effectively in the global marketplace. The last pillar embraces heritage, which creates opportunities for folk artists worldwide to ensure their heritage and traditional practices are appropriately acknowledged and secured.

Among the highlighted global artists is Pachan Premjibhai Siju from India who creates apparel weavings as a reaction to climate change. For centuries the weavers of Kutch, the nomadic Rabaris and the settled Ahirs, worked together as a sustainable network of weavers, dyers and clients. Siju has reimagined contemporary shawls and works with his family to weave them according to tradition. He begins with natural fibers including cotton, wool, bamboo and Tassar and Eri silk. Siju then dyes the yarns, their colors inspired by the colors and textures of clouds and earth. He says, “These are the places I innovated on our traditional extra weave motifs to tell my stories, which I think about as I weave.” Siju’s stories are about the impact of climate change on the world as a whole, but also on his tradition of weaving. He says, “I have been thinking about climate change. I wanted clients to also think about it. Our original products were sustainable, but today commercial work is often not. I wanted to create work that is contemporary and sustainable,” 

The International Folk Art Market takes place on Museum Hill in Santa Fe. Tickets are $30 online or $40 at the door. Purchase tickets to reserve your time slot July 9 through 11 or July 14 through 18 at folkartmarket.org/tickets/. Many dates/timeslots are already sold out. Be sure to check online before going.

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