Chile hosts top artisans from around the world

The country’s largest arts fair brings world-class crafts to downtown Santiago.

One downtown Santiago park has been transformed into a hotbed of creativity —  For over two weeks in late November and early December, joggers and dog walkers will have to share their green stomping ground with a special annual visitor: Chile’s largest artisanal fair.

Muestra de Artesania UC, brings together craftsmen and women from 11 countries to display and sell their work in a central location accessible to all, Parque Bustamante.

Eminently diverse in the work it displays, the fair introduces the casual visitor to a world of artisanal wonders, from brightly colored Mexican talavera, to traditional Indian clothing to meticulously crafted wood boats modeled after those found in Southern Chile.

Though now an established fixture of the world craft scene, Muestra de Artesania began as a small event 40 years ago. Former president of Chile’s Architecture Association, Patricio Gross, founded the fair in 1974 to combat a perceived lack of space for cultural innovators and its beneficiaries to show, sell or enjoy handmade crafts, typical dances and traditional foods.

Since the early days, this fair has grown steadily, building a reputation for its strong commitment to rescuing and maintaining traditional art.

This sentiment was echoed by many in attendance at the fair on it opening day. Denise Sánchez Aparicio a 32-year-artist who works primarily with Clay said the fair helps to keep alive art which reflects humanity’s heritage.

“The reason we’re here — and the reason the fair is here — is to rescue traditional art,” Aparicio told The Santiago Times. “It helps highlight the importance of traditional art.”

Chile is well-known for its rich craft history — Traveling across the country one sees traditions and styles changing between regions. In Chiloé, woven textile crafts have a long, rich history, while the Maule region boasts Rari, a delicate craft that uses horsehair to create beautiful figurines and jewellery.