Well-known Limpopo artists, Mishack Raphalalani and Avhashoni Mainganye represented South African Art at America’s largest folk art market in Santa Fé, in July this year. This annual event in New Mexico gathers artisans from over 60 countries to share their work and cultures in a lively festival filled with art, food and music.
It attracts up to 21,000 visitors annually.The good news for visitors to Limpopo and the Soutpansberg this summer is that all sizes artworks of both these artists as well as those of 46 other Limpopo artists are displayed in the Venda Tsonga CraftArt exhibition at the lodge this year.
Guests can meet most of these artists on various village and lifestyle tours done from the lodge. Artists who participate in the Santa Fe art market face stiff competition. “Works that makes it to the final selection really have to be good quality with cultural significance. We went through a long application process on this side and were allowed only 100kg of artworks per artist to be shipped to Santa Fe. Just one of my bigger sculptures at Madi a Thavha already weighs 100kg,” Mishack laughs.
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Shoni and Mishack are two of 15 South African artists selected by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to represent South Africa.“Santa Fé folk art festival is unbelievable, out of this world” is Shoni’s impression of this world class event. “South Africa’s gallery was very popular; we were invited back to Santa Fé next year and to another similar festival in Miami as well,” he says.“It is quite a trek to get there though, from here one flies over the deserts of Dubai and the ice of Greenland to America in a 24h-long journey,” says Mishack adding that he sold all his small-medium wooden sculptures in a busy market where visitors wanted to know all the stories behind each and every artwork. “South African paintings also sold very well there,“ he says.
Much like the spirit in Santa Fé our Venda Tsonga CraftArt exhibition is also done in celebration of cultural heritage based art and craft in Limpopo,says Marcelle Bosch one of the owners of Madi a Thavha mountain lodge.