Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wycinanki

I started a Polish Folk Art course last week that meets every Weds. night for the next four weeks.  The class is being offered at the Springfield Museums which is a collection of architecturally varied buildings housing museums that focus on fine arts, science, and history.  The buildings form a quad that is home to Dr. Suess' sculptural art garden.  I plan on spending a full day at the museums in Springfield, MA once the weather turns warm and I can enjoy some sunshine in the sculptural gardens.

Last week we were introduced to Wycinanki, pronounced (vih-chee-NAHN-kee).  Wycinanki are paper cut out designs that started decorating Polish homes in the mid 1800's.  Our teacher shared that it's believed Wycinanki came to be after sheep shears were used to decoratively cut up sheep skins. The skins were then used as beautiful, ventilated window coverings.  Here we have a case of function meets art.  Later, after the art form's evolution, the paper cut out designs were used to decorate whitewashed walls and ceiling beams inside Polish homes.  I'm learning that the images expressed in Wycinanki are full of symbolism.  The designs are repetitive, symmetrical, often very colorful, may be circular or rectangular and regionally represent slight variations of style and design.  Flowers, hens and roosters and the tree of life are recurrent themes found in this art form.

Above is my first attempt to create a simple, circular, geometric Wycinanki.  I'm so inspired to run with this... learn more about the symbolism, practice traditional designs and then create my own designs.  All you need is some colorful paper, scissors and a glue stick!  I'm sure there will be more to share on this topic here in the future. 

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