Santa Fe International Folk Art Market

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March 15, 2010
Chilean Earthquake Update

Following the very destructive earthquake in Chile, we’ve received news of Alba Rosa Sepúlveda Tapia of the Arte en Crin Cooperative – a horse hair weaver who’ll be attending the 2010 Market. The word came via Heidi McKinnon, owner of the Santa Fe-based business Materiapriama that sponsor Alba. Heidi reports that part of Alba’s kitchen in the village of Rari was destroyed, but everyone got out of the house safely, including her 86 year-old mother who taught her how to weave.

All 20 women working with the cooperative have had damage to their homes. Mostly roof collapse has been the problem. Alba said that walking around Rari after the earthquake, women were seated outside of their destroyed houses weaving, trying to get their minds off of the situation.

She confirmed that weaving supplies were available in Santiago, but that women in Rari were diverting money to food and shelter and they were all concerned that they would not be able to continue buying horse hair with the extra expenses they now have.

Some Background on Alba Sepulveda

Alba Sepulveda began hand weaving delicate miniature sculptures and designs out of horse hair at the age of seven, and has been developing her craft for over 50 years. Born into a family of artisans from the renowned horsehair weaving town of Rari, Chile, Alba is today one of the foremost weavers in Chile, with a long list of awards and recognitions on an international scale.

She recently developed a cooperative called Arte en Crin, made up of 14 artisans from her hometown of Rari. The cooperative was developed with the intention of creating a space for artisans to be able to support themselves through their traditional art, to engage youth in the centuries old tradition, and to preserve this very important cultural heritage. Their weaving technique is very particular to the region and town of Rari where miniature weavers utilize a local agave fiber called “ixtle” along with the horsehair. They create whimsical and vibrant designs drawn both from nature and from folklore including butterflies, birds, bees, burros, witches, angels, dolls, flowers, and rosaries.

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The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, a non-profit organization, produces the largest international folk art market in the world, and our success led to Santa Fe’s designation as a UNESCO City of Folk Art.