SANTA FE, N.M. — An unexpected item will be making its way to the International Folk Art Market/Santa Fe this year.

“Whoever thought we would sell T-shirts at the Folk Art Market?” joked Keith Recker, a member of the market’s board of directors, during a preview last Thursday of the 162 artists invited to this year’s event.

The Folk Art Market, which will be held for the 15th time this summer on Museum Hill, is better known for its high-end, collectible textiles, pottery, baskets, jewelry, apparel and other forms of folk art made by master artists from around the world — not for the ubiquitous souvenir.

But this summer, Meeta Mastani will sell block-printed T-shirts with contemporary motifs such as flip-flops and peace symbols from a booth on Milner Plaza. “The irreverence is just fantastic,” Recker said.

Also new this year will be eri silk home furnishings and apparel made by tribal women in Assam, a remote region in northeast India, and sold through Ereena, a line of accessories and fabrics founded in 2013 and based in Hyderabad, India. Recker said he saw the group’s work at another show and invited it to apply. The women wait to harvest the cocoons until the silkworms hatch, allowing the moths to safely escape. The fabric, Recker said, is more like cotton and, “no other silk is like that, comfy and lofty.”

These artists are among the 39 first-timers who will be at the market in July. They survived a competitive process that started last year. The six-member selection committee comprising gallerists and museum curators, many of whom know the artists, reviewed 642 applications, looking at the artists’ roots in tradition and culture, as well as their technique and composition, and cut the pool in half.

The placement committee, on which Recker serves, then halved the list again with an eye on offering the right assortment of goods that will be appealing and relevant to shoppers.

Aside from craft, the jurors are influenced by the artists’ stories of how they contribute to the health and sustainability of their communities.

This year, as last, the market will include an Innovation Inspiration section, 28 booths that will showcase how traditional folk art is evolving in response to contemporary life and environmental concerns.

Folk art, Recker said, has “a living quality. It’s not frozen in time.”

Artists were notified by Dec. 31 about whether they had been accepted. And last Thursday, the list was unveiled for Folk Art Market friends and supporters.

Many old favorites will be back, such as Serge Jolimeau, the Haitian oil drum sculptor who has attended every market since 2004, and new favorites such as Rupa Trivedi, who recycles temple blessings into dyes for fabrics, and the Guatemalan women who weave rugs from recycled clothing exported from the U.S.

Appreciation for the handmade is growing in the 21st century, Recker said. After decades of brand-driven consumption, he believes, consumers are looking for “not a what they can have but what they can accomplish with their purchase.”

In the case of the Folk Art Market, they can help traditional artists pay for clean water systems, schools and health clinics at home while sustaining their traditional crafts. People, including many of the 20,000-plus who attend the popular market, are, he said, “getting savvier about investing their disposable income in things they believe in.”

Handmade goods, he added, are “an implicit, tactile reminder that I’m here with other people” and an “antidote” to our “ever more virtual and chillier interactions” with our highly technical world.

The International Folk Art Alliance, which presents the annual market, is still settling into its new and bigger digs in a renovated furniture store on Cerrillos Road. Recker spoke in a gathering space that will be used for community events, such as an upcoming lecture series that is scheduled to kick off Feb. 14 with CEO Jeff Snell speaking on social innovation and folk art.


Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com

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ANNE CONSTABLE
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