International Arts and Crafts Festival
By Ana Laura Arbesú / Photos by Prensa Latina
Utilitarian art and fashion fuse at FIART 2012, the International Arts and Crafts Fair, a much-anticipated event that brings together artists, crafts and designers from all over the world, especially Latin America. Each December, Havana becomes the world capital of arts and crafts, a place to appreciate different trends in furniture, fashion and everything we need to surround ourselves with everyday artwork.
It is a unique opportunity for each of us to take home a piece of the best of contemporary art, both by Cubans and by craftsmen who come from elsewhere in the world to offer us their creations.
Artists from Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, Argentina, Honduras, Costa Rica, other Caribbean nations and even from India come to display their work, often imbued with their indigenous cultures.
One of the event's main attractions is the trade fair, which is held in the now-traditional venue of the Pabexpo fair grounds in western Havana. From a whimsical, square or triangle-shaped coffee cup to an elegant dining room or living room set made out of turned wood by master carpenters, visitors can take home something special. Basketwork, which is very popular for its beauty and usefulness, fabrics, costume jewelry, ceramics, shoes, gold and silver articles and even sculpture all have their place in this fiesta. Another very popular feature of the fair is the fashion shows. Designers show off their work, full of imagination and talent, for the audience to admire.
Beyond its commercial activity, the fair provides an opportunity for exchange between professionals. Its extensive program of activities includes an academic event for debate on the latest trends in contemporary design. This year, the debate will focus on a topic closely related to the current economic situation: the development of arts and crafts and the challenges of the global crisis.
According to its organizers, from its inception, the main goal of FIART has been to foster arts and crafts production in Cuba, especially furniture, with audacious designs, and the quality of the products featured here is very competitive.
The fair also shows how arts and crafts are a bridge of communication and cultural exchange between peoples. That is manifest every year, at the fair when specific countries are highlighted on different days.
The annual FIART award is granted to the most complete entries that express artisanal excellence, and the Lifetime Achievement Award is given to artists and artisans whose work has won them prestige.
The fiesta of arts and crafts will once again open its doors in December, for an encounter between Cuban culture and the world.