Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Volunteering at the Santa Fe Folk Artist Market

on July 18, 2011

Where do you get your ideas?  This is a question that I am asked often when I am presenting school workshops and teacher classes. Ideas are all around us, but I think, for me, some of my best ideas happen by being a part of life….specifically volunteering.

Last weekend, my sister and I traveled to Santa Fe and volunteered as artists assistants at the Santa Fe International Folk Artist Market. The Market is a two-day event and takes place on Museum Hill in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Market entrance fees also includes entrance to the Museum of International Folk Art.  The Market includes more than 120 folk artists from over 45 countries.  Sales at the Market directly benefit artists and their families and help sustain communities worldwide– participants take home 90% of all sales. Many of the Market artists are from developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Central Asia, Eurasia, and the Middle East. Some Market participants also include women’s cooperatives and humanitarian organizations whose work supports improving economic conditions and the quality of life for many- sometimes hundreds- of folk artists in their home communities. Artists use earnings for food, clothing, healthcare, education, and as an investment in their growing business enterprises.

Find out more about the Santa Fe International Folk Artist Market

As an artist assistant, my job was to help Haiti artist, Marie Bernard Pascale Faublas sell her papier-mache masks, figurines, bowls, and ornaments. Marie began learning the craft at age 14 and later organized a cooperative.  My sister was an artist assistant to Aboubakar Fofana, an artist from Mali, who hand spins cotton and natural indigo dyes to create textiles such as wraps, scarves, and pillow cases. He came to learn the craft by traveling around West Africa countries and speaking to his elders. Marie’s booth was a popular one, and the afternoon sped by as we sold many, many of her papier-machie roosters!

The next day, my sister and I returned to the Market as attendees. We browsed the crafts and attended the Art of Survival Exhibit at the Folk Artist Museum.This exhibit explored how folk artists have helped their communities recover from four recent natural disasters: the Haitian Earthquake; Hurricane Katrina; floods in Pakistan and the volcanic eruption of Mt. Merapi in Indonesia.  The Arts of Survival features monumental artifacts, poetry, spoken word, along with video and photographic documents that reveal the many ways in which a country’s traditional arts and artists provide comfort, council, prayer, beauty, resources and hope to rebuild and renew. As tragic events are retold through works of art, such as carnival masks, scrolls, paintings, or vodou flags, the events and the pain they brought is made more manageable.

As I return home and back to my computer, the colors, sounds, tastes, smells, and experiences of the Market are swirling in my head, and I’m sure over the next few months, will show up on the pages of my writing. All of which is reminding me how volunteering can enhance how I see the world, and what I bring to the page.

If you are interested in finding ways to volunteer, check out this website.


4 responses to “Volunteering at the Santa Fe Folk Artist Market

  1. Ann Teplick says:

    Mindy, what a rich and wonderful experience!

  2. beccaspiral37 says:

    Loved the experience!! It was definitely inspiring!

  3. […] My sister and I volunteered as Artist Assistants., and I wrote about our adventures here. […]

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