Artists sustain the vibrant creativity that strengthens the community of Santa Fe. What does the UNESCO Creative Cities Network do for artists? Local artists benefit from collegial connections between artists in faraway places, representing their community at international arts events, career-furthering workshops, and exhibiting or performing their work in international settings. What do Santa Fe’s artists have to offer to the Network? They have expertise in wide-ranging visual art and performing arts disciplines. They and their work are connected to a unique place on Earth, where the land and history inspire creativity.
Building Networks Between Communities
Ceramic Artists from Icheon, S. Korea Prosper at the International Folk Art Market
A close relationship has formed between Santa Fe and Icheon, S. Korea, which is a Crafts and Folk Art Creative City. Over the past decade, Icheon ceramic artists have attended Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market to sell their work and exhibited in local galleries. Santa Fe and Icheon also have an active Sister City relationship.
Italian City Connects to Santa Fe Through Paper-Making
Thomas Leech, paper-maker and printer and Curator of the New Mexico History Museum and Director of the Press at the Palace of the Governors, collaborated across continents with a fellow expert in Fabriano, Italy. Director Giorgio Pellegrini of the Museo della Carta e della Filigrana (Museum of Paper and Watermarks) shared his expertise with Leech and cemented the relationship between fellow institutions and paper lovers. Leech researched Italian paper held in the New Mexico History Museum’s collection and worked with Fabriano paper-makers to prepare 900 sheets of paper for a reprint of Hands, by Bruno Carusso. Leech built further relationships and knowledge at the Creative Cities Network Annual Meeting held during his professional exchange visit.
Bridging Cultures Between Santa Fe and Japan
Santa Fe artist Michael Namingha represented the United States at UNESCO's Creative Cities Network International New Designers Workshop in Nagoya, Japan. The visit included a storytelling workshop with students from 15 international universities, including Japan, Australia, China, Egypt, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Lithuania, and the U.S.
“Japanese students on our team led us through a history of the city that turned into a sort of treasure hunt looking for meaning in symbols left throughout the city,” says Namingha. “There was a personal connection made during the exploration of the city; I learned that Nagoya castle was built in 1610 and Santa Fe, NM was founded as a city that same year.” Namingha found the interaction with the other participants to be invaluable.
“My experience that week, although brief, has left a lasting impression on me and my work. I was able to experience another country in a way that was so in depth and eye opening to the history and culture of the place,” Namingha says. “Story telling and sharing of creative ideas among different cultures is an important one in keeping traditions and knowledge alive.”
Creative Cities Program Promotes Youth Education Experiences
Youth and youth exchanges are a vital aspect of UNESCO’s Creative Cities program as well as adult exchanges. Teaching collaboration, creativity and cross-cultural understanding to all ages contributes to and strengthens the Creative Cities Network. Santa Fe youth have had the opportunity to travel to South Korea and Japanese students visited Santa Fe for creative experiences.
Santa Fe Youth Perform in 2019 Global Sister Cities Youth Orchestra Festival in S. Korea
Santa Fe sent a nine-member group of student musicians to Icheon, S. Korea to participate in a Global Youth Orchestra Festival, along with groups from ten of Icheon’s Sister Cities. Participants included representatives from Creative City Paducah, Kentucky. Students from all over the world showcased musical compositions from each of the Sister Cities during the final orchestral performance on August 2, 2019.
In recognition of its support for youth, Santa Fe received an award for Innovation in Youth and Education at the 2020 Sister Cities Virtual Annual Conference. The Innovation Awards recognize the accomplishments of outstanding community and individual sister city programs that promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation.
Japanese College Students Waltz Creatively
The City of Kanazawa, Japan holds an innovative “Creative Waltz,” sending students from the Kanazawa College of Arts to member Creative Cities. Over a three-year period, 2012-2014, two young glass artists and one jeweler visited Santa Fe through this program. Two of the three students established lasting professional relationships with Santa Fe artists at Liquid Light Glass Studio and the Poeh Center.
Sonoko Matsuda, glass artist, focused on visiting arts and cultural assets and glass studios in order to discover more about Santa Fe and the glass artists here in 2014. She visited Liquid Light Glass with Elodie Holmes, Tesuque Glassworks with Charlie Miner and Bullseye Glass. Sonoko graduated and was teaching glass at Tama Art University, Kougei Glass Program in Tokyo and has since moved to Kyoto to pursue her own studio practice and has also been recognized nationally for her work.