Gifts Today magazine

Folk Art Market returns to Dallas

June’s Total Home & Gift Market features artisans from around the world

Dallas Market Center welcomes the return of the highly-anticipated International Folk Art Market Collection, June 22-26 during the Total Home & Gift Market, June 22-28 on the first floor of World Trade Center in the atrium.

“Being able to connect with artisans, hear their stories and see their passion really changes the buying experience,” says Cindy Morris, president and CEO of Dallas Market Center. “Stories are important to buyers, they want more than just another product to put on their shelves, they want to share what that product means and the impact it has. The International Folk Art Market Collection gives them that experience.”

More than a dozen artists travel to Dallas on their way to Santa Fe, New Mexico for the annual International Folk Art Market (IFAM), the largest international folk art market in the world. IFAM’s mission is to foster economic and cultural sustainability for folk artists worldwide and to create intercultural opportunities that unite the peoples of the world. The wholesale connections made in Dallas provide year-round income for the artists, creating a lasting economic impact on their communities.

The artisans exhibiting at IFAM come from all over the world including India, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Guatemala and Nepal. With years of skilled dedication to a craft, passed down for centuries, these artisans share not just their products, but their stories and their passion. As they continue to teach new generations their skill set, the artists contribute to making their communities prosperous and knowledgeable. Some of the remarkable items the artists exhibit include embroidered textiles, basketry, ceramics, beaded jewelry, painted wood objects, tie-dye scarves, hand-woven silks and clothing.

Innovando la Tradicion from Uzbekistan is one artisan group carrying on a passed down craft. Innovando la Tradicion is a creative platform where artisans and designers share skills, knowledge and stories to rethink and honor the ceramic traditions of Oaxaca. They offer services to potters and pottery communities in Oaxaca that support the development of their trade. Their goal is to elevate the symbolic, cultural and commercial value of pottery in the world of today by fostering innovation through experimental workshops and technical training.

Bhairvis Chikan is the story of hundreds of craftswomen, who, without any formal education, have continued the skills that are inherent in their culture. Lucknow, India, where the women call home, is the epicenter for Chikankari embroidery. Much of the knowledge on how to produce this art was lost in the second half of the 20th century. Bhairvis Chikan, started in 1998, has not only revived the craft, but has also changed the lives of the women in the region. Approximately 340 women are engaged in the embroidery process. The designs are printed on hand woven fabric using wooden printing blocks and brought to life by these craftswomen with the help of the 36 stitches. These women use their earnings to send their daughters to school, pay for their families' medical expenses, install hand pumps in their homes, and generally enjoy much more respect and understanding from their community. They are self-sufficient.

Ujjwal Shrestha learned the craft of paper mache from watching family members create traditional masks for ritual performances in the Kathmandu Valley. The skill of mask making is endangered and only a few families in his community practice the art. Ujjwal is training a new generation the craft. He has expanded his product line to include finely made paper products, thus employing hundreds of men and women. Ujjwal has organized with other artisans in Kathmandu to build a market for their products, as he believes the craft he practices is an important piece of his cultural heritage. The skilled hands and cultural knowledge of these artisan families, handed down from generation to generation, has kept these cities alive.

To learn more about the artisans exhibiting at IFAM visit IFAM at Dallas Market Center.

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