Day 2: Our artists need us, and we need them

I practically swerved the car right off the road and up onto the sidewalk when I noticed the Alma Artesana Collective for the first time last month. (Not that this would have been particularly unusual behavior. Someone actually did this in my neighborhood a couple of weeks ago. With a city bus. Into a Chinese restaurant. No one was seriously hurt. But I digress.)

An oasis on a traffic-clogged intersection in Curridabat, Alma Artesana is jam-packed with the beautiful offerings of more than 40 artisans from all over Costa Rica, sharing space to defray costs. Their motto? “We don’t sell products – we sell stories.”

As someone who firmly believes that stories, especially true ones, can save us from just about anything, I took this slogan to heart and threw down the first challenge of my year of Costa Rica Daily Boost-ing. I hereby challenge myself to acquire more stories, to save more of my dollars for artists whose names and backgrounds I actually learn. As an introvert, I don’t tend to chat up artists even if I do buy straight from them at a street fair… and too often, it’s easier to buy gifts that benefit bigger companies. I want to change that. Today, art is such a source of not only solace, but also activism. Our artists are a big part of movements for change, and God knows it’s a hard trail to blaze, whether you are crafting political statements or cuddly unicorns (see below). And at a time when ugliness is so dominant – including, literally, in San José, where a new Legislative Assembly building that resembles a skyscraping bunker has been horrifying the nation alongside other, similarly grotesque towering travesties – we need to stand by our purveyors of beauty.

During the year ahead, I want say thank you to the artists and artisans around me by taking off my blinders and getting to know them wherever I can, especially when they are creating change through their art. When I can buy something from them, I will try to learn their stories so I can spotlight them here. Maybe in the process I’ll feel a little more connected to people in this city, which is something I yearn for – and I’ll see that connection whenever I look around my house.

Are you good about this? Are there a lot of stories in your home already? What’s a piece of art that’s been bringing you comfort lately? I’d love to hear about it or see it – and if you know any Costa Rican artists, please tag them or mention them here so I can follow up with them. (Check out Alma Artesana on Instagram or Facebook.)

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook!

10 comments

  1. I live in tiny Eastport, Maine (on the mouth of Fundy Bay), a fishing community where artists also abound, including from Sipayik, our Passamaquoddy neighbors: making art in home studios and living rooms, in shared spaces, in the church-renovated Arts Center where artists display and teach and learn together and where the Passamaquoddy Bay Symphony Orchestra, Quoddy voices and other musicians rehearse and perform. Come, stop and talk to any of these artists and you will hear their stories!

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  2. Love those unicorns! And I know some little ones who would love them too. We’ll have to make a side trip when we’re in CR. More importantly, I love this project. You are an inspiration to downtrodden creatives everywhere. Thank you, Katherine.

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