July 12, 2011
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival ended yesterday and if you live in Washington, DC I hope you had the opportunity to attend. As stated in our previous Blog post the Festival is an international exposition of living cultural heritage that was started in 1967. This year's Festival highlighted Colombia's bio-cultural diversity, the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corp and the powerful influence of rhythm and blues music in American popular culture.
In honor of the Festival we are featuring two artists, Belart and Elbeto, from Colombia. For more than 40 years, Colombia has been plagued by a drug-fueled internal conflict, pitting guerrilla groups, paramilitaries and government forces against one another. This has resulted in a large proportion of the population to be displaced from their homes. These artists work with artisans, some who have been displaced, to generate sustainable incomes from products created by traditional craftsmanship.
Belart -- Bello Art, is an eclectic mother-daughter team that enjoys creating art with artisans and farmers in Colombia. It is a socially responsible company committed to providing displaced and economically disadvantaged people, particularly women, sustainable employment and creating viable markets for their products. Belart works in partnership with a number of non-profit/government organizations including Aid to Artisans and Accion Social to ensure artisans are paid a fair wage and work in safe conditions.
Belart believes that supporting cross cultural, respectful and enduring partnerships with their artisans creates sustainable economic and productive alternatives for these individuals to generate a sustainable income.
Visit Belart under the Artists to learn more about this artist and see their products.
Elbeto was founded by Lorena Gaitan and now is a well established Colombian designer jewelry company. Before starting Elbeto, Lorena worked for more than 20 years as a marketing expert for designer jewelry in Colombia. In 2004 Lorena decided she wanted to not only market Colombian jewelry, but also find new "undiscovered" designers.
Elbeto gathers talented jewelry designers, and along with its in-house designers group, to create eco-friendly, earthy jewelry. The designers' work is inspired by native art and produced with a strong focus on conservation of nature and the environment. Elbeto designers come from communities whose sole source of income is derived from their traditional arts and crafts.
Visit Elbeto under the Artists to learn more about this artist and see their products.
Just like the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, we are showcasing cultural traditions from the developing world in hopes that you will leave this website with a better appreciation of these cultures, especially if you will not have a chance to visit these countries. If you would like more information about Colombia and see other products made in this country, go to Region and click on Colombia.