The Return of the International Folk Art Market

The Return of the International Folk Art Market

ACC craft correspondent Emily Freidenrich shares a glimpse into IFAM's first iteration since the start of the pandemic.

Santa Fe International Folk Art Market

Photo by Denise Womack-Avila.

The evening was golden and a little windy on Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Museum Hill as I joined the 200 invitees—all of us masked and social-distanced—through the beribboned entrance for a first look at this year’s International Folk Art Market (IFAM) on Wednesday, July 7. Even at a reduced size, with just 128 artists from the usual 300 or so, the world’s largest folk art market still vibrated with color and excitement as we perused exquisite textiles, leatherwork, jewelry, basketry, carvings, ceramics, and so much more.

If you followed along with me on @craftcouncil, you got to see a few of the makers that caught my eye, including the work of my friend Porfirio Gutierrez, the Zapotec weaver featured in my book, ALMOST LOST ARTS (Chronicle Books, 2019); intricate beadwork from Kenyan women’s collectives; luxurious indigo-printed silks and cashmere from Rajasthan, India, by artist Hemangini Rathore of Sundarshan Textile Arts; and Maki Aizawa and Tsuyo Onodera, the mother-and-daughter kimono makers behind Kamiko, who nearly sold out of their sashiko-stitched and natural-dyed haori and hanten jackets on that first night alone.

Self portrait of person in mirror wearing blue jumpsuit hat and facecovering and craft booth

Self-portrait by Emily Freidenrich.

IFAM took many precautions to protect its makers, guests, volunteers, and staff. The market was also split into two weekends (July 7–9 and July 14–18) with sixty artists each. The breaks between weekends and daily timed entries for attendees allowed staff the chance to clean and reset for each session. What’s more, the organization paid for the flights and lodging of all artists, and provided Coronavirus testing prior to market attendance.

Due to IFAM’s efforts, the safe return of the market brought its artists a much-needed financial opportunity that for so many has often been the most important event of the year. And of course, this was the first time for many of us craft-lovers to admire (and acquire!) incredible work in person, direct from the skilled artists. I'm looking forward to the (safe) return of more events like this one, which we have all love and missed!

emilyfreidenrich.com | @emfrei

Keep up on happenings in the craft world through our newsletter

Sign up to receive our Craft Dispatch, a curated dose of exciting events, opportunities, and content from our community delivered to your inbox each month.

Sign Up