NEA Arts Magazine

Hot on the Trail

The NEA Talks with Diane Bowman of Española Valley Fiber Arts


People sit at small looms

Española Valley Fiber Arts offers classes in many fiber arts techniques, such as this color theory class for weavers. Photo by Diane Bowman.

Diane Bowman is executive director of Española Valley Fiber Arts (EVFA), a site on the north central loop of New Mexico's Fiber Arts Trail. A nonprofit membership organization, EVFA functions as a school, business incubator, materials supplier, gallery, and studio, aiming to preserve the state's fiber arts traditions by helping fiber artists to make a living from their art. You can read the full interview with Bowman on the NEA web site.

NEA: How has Española Valley Fiber Arts benefited from the Fiber Arts Trail?

DIANE BOWMAN: I think it's gotten us a lot of exposure. We were involved as it developed, so we got to meet artists all over the state...and out of that came [New Mexico Fiber Artisans], a statewide organization for people involved in fiber arts -- organizations, businesses, growers, producers, farms, yarn shops, etc.

I've been looking at the statistics, and we certainly have had more visitors, and I think the composition has changed a little bit. We've got more people from other parts of the country and more people from foreign countries. So it's been effective in bringing other people to our center that never would've gotten here. It's not like Santa Fe in which you get walk-in traffic. Someone has to know we're here to come. [The Fiber Arts Trail guide] was such a beautifully done book and so professional, I think it's given the fiber arts some respect as an art form.

NEA:What's the value of the Fiber Arts Trail to New Mexico?

BOWMAN: I think that the arts, especially in New Mexico, are one of our greatest assets, and it's a way to let the rest of the world know that we have a treasure here in these artists. I think it made us all more aware -- everybody from the legislature to just individuals that live here -- of what we have and more appreciative of what we have. I think the arts are really important for quality of life. This idea of bringing the market to the artists really helps people in these small communities. Probably a quarter of our membership lives in little tiny towns, really isolated areas, where there aren't a lot of job opportunities. The arts give them a way to supplement their income.

I think New Mexico Fiber Artisans is the biggest thing that came out of it. And the idea of us all working together to market the industry as a whole rather than struggling along on our own is a really good thing. Another thing that I found significant was...that all the artists that I met and the organizations really felt that we were partnering with the state and that we were doing it together.