Folk Art in Poland

We cordially invite you to our annual festival exhibition. As every year, our community wishes to share with you Polish culture and traditions. This exhibit was made possible by the hard work and relentless commitment of our parishioners, and all the artifacts in this exhibit were graciously donated by members of the local Polish community.

Polish folk art, specifically that associated with rural art, is an important pillar of our national culture. Though important, visual art is not the only form of expression celebrated; music, dance, literature, ceremonies, and folk customs are all highly revered forms of art and are essential to upholding Polish traditions. There are two main areas of folk art: representative and decorative art.

Representative art was first associated with prominent religious characters of that time. Images of God, the Virgin Mary, and patron saints were common subjects. It was a way of worship through expression. Decorative art, on the other hand, was a means by which to embellish the lives of everyday people by drawing inspiration from their immediate surroundings and portraying them as more beautiful than they were, adding a pop of color to life in the rural countryside.

While the products of handicraft (the skill of making objects by hand, often decorating them in a very ornate way) served functional purposes, they also had great aesthetic appeal. The greatest influences on the development of folk art ranged from the nature surrounding the artists, to the strong values system of the time, to even the social relationships they found themselves engaging in. As styles varied throughout the countryside, culture was always a point of reference. It united communities, allowing each one to develop its own canon of beauty, setting a standard for aesthetic appeal that all residents would understand.

Polish folk art blossomed in the late XVII and early XIX centuries in light of the abolition of serfdom and the awakening of social consciousness. It was both a form of and a way by which to manifest cultural and artistic needs through functional and concrete means. Folk art is, of course, associated with folk culture and social life—it united members of a given community, giving them a sense of belonging and autonomy in relation to other regions as a result of folk culture developing, functioning, and existing only in forms of regional variations.

A notable characteristic of Polish folk art is that it is undeniably faithful to tradition while being original in and of itself, favoring a natural approach to artistic thinking by respecting the use of raw materials, tools, techniques, and workmanship. An important aspect was also the teaching of skills and techniques from generation to generation, from master to students, and the ability to use and build on others’ ideas and previous works.

Polish folk art, in association with visual fine arts, can be divided into two groups. -The first is illustrative art, which includes sculpture (often in wood, stone, or baked goods like bread), wood carvings, and paintings (on wood, glass, metal sheets, paper, and tiles). -Some folk art also falls under the category of artisanal craft, often called handicraft. Forms of such craft include pottery, plaiting, blacksmithing, paper cutting, woodcarving, carpentry, saddlery, weaving, embroidery, and lace making. Artisans created everyday items necessary for agriculture. With industrialization changing production, artisanal creations changed in nature and use, often being kept simply as decorations. There is also a great deal of ritualistic art to recognize, including dough sculptures, masks, and traditional Polish Easter eggs called pisanki.

Major types of products made popular due to the materials used:

Fibrous products—textiles (carpets, uniforms, clothing, traditional folk costumes), lace, embroidery, and cords

Metal products—crosses, bars, fittings, agricultural tools, and fences

Wood products—houses, furniture, household items, sieves, wheels, toys, ornaments, and sculpture

Clay products—tiles, cookware, pots, figurines, and toys

Leather products—fur coats, belts, bags, moccasins, pouches, purses, saddles, and shoes Woven products made from straw, wicker, roots, and grass—roofing, furniture, baskets, sieves, hats, mats, toys, and ornaments Paper products—paper cutouts, stickers, artificial flowers

During the two days of Festival please stop by to enjoy the:

- Demonstration of Lace Embroidery Saturday, February 25th 2017 from 10 am until 3 pm

- Demonstration of Easter Egg Decorating Sunday, February 26th 2017 from 10 am until 3 pm