This week, a Winter Artisan Fair was held in Minneapolis for a mini extravaganza of jewelry, artwork, and crafts from over a dozen Indigenous artists and vendors. Reporter Chandra Colvin has the story.
Chandra Colvin: The Native American Community Development Institute’s [NACDI] All My Relations Arts Gallery and Four Sisters Farmers Market collaborated to hold a Winter Artisan Fair on January 19th and 20th. The fair was organized by Destiny Jones, who is the food sovereignty coordinator and farmer’s market manager at Four Sisters Farmers Market. This is the first artisan fair to be held in the off season.
Destiny Jones: Typically Four Sisters is a seasonal farmers market, in the summer we run the entire growing season. And we focus on food access and food sovereignty, specifically indigenous food sovereignty in the East Phillips Ventura Village area of South Minneapolis right here on the American Indian Cultural corridor, better known as Franklin Avenue.
The connection between Four Sisters Farmers Market, and All My Relations Arts was actually really organic. I love working with Angela Two Stars and Juliana Enright, who are the team that primarily makes up All My Relations Arts. They’re [All My Relations Arts] another program within NACDI that focuses on the arts aspect of indigenous representation. And we were trying to figure out ways to better collaborate between food sovereignty and arts and culture.
CC: Jones says that an artist-in-residence at the farmers market was established. The idea is to have a featured artist at Four Sisters Farmers Market each month during the summer. It is not to only share and sell the artist’s work, but to engage with market goers on knowledge of indigenous plants and food sovereignty. Jones wanted to create spaces that were reciprocal to the artists in the community, alongside creating opportunities during the off-season.
DJ:I really wanted to be able to kind of create more spaces for people to sell work, early entrepreneurs to, kind of, get their start and also display their beautiful and traditional beadwork, and moccasins and jewelry and all of the other amazing things that we have that are presented at the market.
Something that I hear a lot from all vendors is that the winter can be really hard as markets dwindle. That’s something that I also wanted to alleviate for some of our vendors. I know that we work with a lot of early entrepreneurs and I would just hate to see so many talented people get discouraged because I know that it can be a really hard business to get started.
CC: Brook LaFloe is the founder and owner of Niniijaanis (One of Ones), the company is a social enterprise for indigenous children and a collective of artists and educators that work under a model of selling artwork with all proceeds going into giveaways for indigenous children. This was one of the several times that Niniijaanis has been a vendor at the Four Sisters Farmers Market, selling bead and ribbon work amongst other items.
Brook LaFloe: I love how NACDI invites the community very openly. You don’t have to be an established business. There’s artists in there who are just starting. And I like how NACDI uplifts everybody in the community. This market does a good job trying to promote anybody at any stage in their business or in their art. And I appreciate that because that’s what we should do, uplift each other in the artists community, collaboration over competition, and it’s good when NACDI hosts these markets, because they invite people in. They create marketing and you know, kind of publicize and get the word out there. So it’s nice when NACDI hosts things for artists.
CC: The turnout for both artists and market goers was notable.
DJ: It’s just really amazing to have so much interest and to have so many people show up with all different types of work. It’s just really beautiful to see the community come and support artists as well.
CC: There will be another upcoming Artisan Market on April 19th and 20th with 16 vendors already planning to participate with an influx of new artists joining the fair. You can find more information upcoming on allmyrelationsarts.org. For more information about Niniijanis, visit niniijaanis1of1s.com.
For Minnesota Native News, this is Chandra Colvin.
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