Thursday, November 9, 2017

Generosity: Gratitude in Action … Feria Maestros del Arte

Artist from Chiapas
 After practicing gratitude for a year and a half, I began to be pulled to something else. At first, I thought it was my old nemesis, inconsistency, raising its ugly head again. After awhile though, it felt like something else was emerging, and it seemed to be coming from my new home here in Mexico.

One of the first things I noticed here was the overwhelming generosity of the immigrants to this beautiful but poverty challenged country. I’ve met people from the US and Canada who have started orphanages, medical programs, tuition support programs, food programs, art mentoring programs, language programs and dozens of other helping projects. Most of the people I talk with are so grateful to be living in this amazing country that they want to give back and they are finding thousands of ways to do that.

Artist from Puebla
One example is Marianne Carlson, founder of the Feria Maestros del Arte, an annual event which, over the past 16 years, has become known as the premier folk art festival in Mexico. Most of us are familiar with arts and crafts fairs, but this one sprang from a different source. 
Marianne was traveling around Mexico, finding amazing crafts that she had never seen in stores or galleries. She began to fall in love with the crafts and the artisans and to understand the difficulties they faced in selling their art in order to support their families and continue making their crafts which had been handed down for generations. 
Woodcarving from Oaxaca
Chiapas textile artist
 Marianne founded the Feria to support the artists and to introduce their crafts to a wider audience. The financial arrangement for the Feria is designed to support the artists. Artists pay no booth fee or commission. The Feria raises money to help pay for transportation costs, often renting buses to bring artists from remote villages as far away as the state of Chiapas in the south of Mexico. Artists are housed by local residents, another piece of the generous nature of this event and a cultural interaction that might never happen otherwise. A modest fee is charged visitors and artists donate one piece of their art to help support the event. 
So many colors!
Ribbon hat

Huichol Pompoms
They may look like bright bits of fluff but the making of pompoms are an important Huichol craft for celebrations. Pompoms,  resembling roses in full bloom, signify “the way.” 
Bujo Nahual
While I was taking photos of some wood carvings, the artist handed me the one above. I was struck by it for many reasons but the price was way out of my range so I walked away ... only to come back again, and again. Finally, rationalizing to the nth degree, he'll come home with me tomorrow.
The Feria was born in the cauldron of generosity and I was thrilled to sample just a bit of it today.

This the first in an ongoing series around generosity.