Almost 8 years ago, in October 2014, I was a retired lawyer with no entrepreneurial aspirations. I spent my much loved free time volunteering for a local Albuquerque nonprofit that hosts visiting professionals from around the world.
At the farewell party we hosted in my home for a group from Tajikistan, the visitors were making their farewell speeches and giving us gifts of local handicrafts. I had learned during their visit that NO ONE in the US was working to build a market for Tajik products. There had never been a Tajik artist at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.
When I stood up for my farewell speech, I heard myself saying, “I’ll do it. I’ll build the US market for Tajik handicrafts.” And thank God I didn’t know what I didn’t know!
It turns out that I didn’t know anything about art, fashion, design, marketing, sales, social media, websites, or even Central Asia. I didn’t then, and I still don’t speak any of the native languages of Central Asia. The learning curve has been very steep.
But by February 2020, HoonArts was a verified fair trade business, working with artisan groups in 3 countries, empowering over 100 artisans (mostly rural women), with customers on 4 continents. I love sharing the stories of the artists, their artistry, their culture and history, as well as my own crazy entrepreneurial journey.
But why art? And why me?
I don’t have a background in art, though I did play alto clarinet through high school. I loved concert band, but absolutely hated marching band and selling band candy. And I recognized early in my high school career that I wasn’t destined for musical greatness.
Yet somehow, the possibility of art as a “hook” to grab people’s attention and start a conversation that might ultimately transform the world wormed its way into my psyche and it’s never left. Art magically reaches in and touches the hearts of all people, regardless of their race, their ethnic background, their nationality, their language, or any other way that people tend to identify themselves or “others.” It’s that universal power to unite, to bridge all those barriers, that spoke to me.
You probably recognize that indescribable feeling when some piece of art (whether it’s a painting, or a sculpture, or a poem, or a woven textile, or a song) speaks to you on some primal level that makes you see that we’re all connected, we’re all part of something bigger than ourselves, part of some amazing “whole.” I wish I were a poet so I could better express that magical sense that art inspires.
Since my words are insufficient, I thought I’d share the words of a few others that come closer to expressing the spirit of possibility and common humanity that I see embodied in art.
“Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.”--Albert Einstein
“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”—Pablo Picasso
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”--Georgia O’Keeffe
“Art is a way of recognizing oneself.” –Louise Bourgeois
“Art is the expression of the profoundest thoughts in the simplest way.”--Albert Einstein
“Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.”--Keith Haring
“A true artist is not one who is inspired but one who inspires others.”--Salvador Dalí
“An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”--Charles Bukowski
“An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.”--George Santayana
“The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.”--Auguste Rodin
“To be an artist is to believe in life.”--Henry Moore
“In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.”--Ralph Waldo Emerso
“Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.”--Stella Adler
“Art is the stored honey of the human soul.” Theodore Dreiser
“Any fool can be happy. It takes a man with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.” -Clive Barker
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” --Edgar Degas
Munira Akilova of Tajikistan, teaching in Tajikistan.
Something about the art of Central Asia captured my heart and never let go. Now, it’s my great joy to share it with you. I hope that you too catch a glimpse of the world of possibilities that it opens up!