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Stanisława Mąka


Category I. Plastic arts, ornamentation, handicraft and folk crafts, music and dance folklore

Field of activity:
She paints and carves in wood, makes traditional folk arts and crafts ritual and traditional forms of folk ornaments from the Chełm region.

Rożdżałów, Chełmskie, woj. lubelskie

She is one of the most recognised folk artists in Lublin Voivodeship, with versatile talents – she realises her artistic passions in figurative art – painting and sculpture and in creating folk cutouts and ornamental graphics for Easter egg.

She was born in Depułtycze Kościelne in 1938, married in 1955 and settled in Rożdżałów in Chełm commune. She devoted her adult life to working on the farm and raising two children. Due to heart failure, she qualified for disability pension. Through the artistic interests of her husband Walerian (1931–2004) – a folk poet and sculptor, member of the Folk Artists Association – she became interested in folk art and started her adventure with painting. She mentions that she inherited her painting skills after her mother. She made the first experiments with watercolours and poster paints, but, finally, she decided to use oil technique. She paints on canvas and fibreboard. Over the years she perfected her technique, achieving mastery beyond reproach. The themes of her paintings include rural landscapes where she integrates traditional rural architecture; huts with thatched roofs, mills, churches. She recalls with nostalgia traditional farming activities, spectacular family and religious ceremonies. In her paintings we can sense the sentimental nostalgia for the time of her youth and affection for local nature. The artist is a very attentive observer of the changing seasons, she paints in real time. Influenced by her husband, she became interested in sculpture. She is very scrupulous about each phases of creation – starting with the preparation of the raw material for sculpting. She is especially keen on using basswood and covers her sculptures with polychromy. Like in painting, she likes to explore rural subjects but her favourites are representations of the Virgin Mary and Pensive Christ, popular with all folk artists.

Easter eggs form an important part of her artistic work. She creates them using the difficult wax-resist method similar to batik, traditionally used in this region; the patterns are applied with a wax marker and after dyeing the pattern retains the colour of the eggshell. In her compositions she uses traditional ornamental motifs: conifer branches, windmills, farmer’s tools. She has also invented her own method of decoration, combining traditional techniques – writing with beeswax and scratching designs into the surface of the eggshell, followed by colouring with inks or paints.

Another field of the artistʼs activity is cutout. In this field, she draws inspiration from old cutouts from the Lublin region. She has also invented her own form of monochromatic, geometric cutout with dominance of zoomorphic, vegetal and anthropomorphic motifs.

For almost fifty years Stanisława Mąka systematically presented her works at regional and nationwide folk art competitions, where she won many prizes. In 1978, she became a member of the Folk Artists Association. She is active at local fairs and annually at the Folk Art Fairs in Kazimierz Dolny. She has held several solo exhibitions and her works are often featured in the magazine Twórczość Ludowa (Folk Art). Her works can also be seen in the gallery run by the artist in her home.

Stanisława Mąkaʼs art is presented in private and ethnographic museum collections in Cracow, Toruń and in the Lublin National Museum, the Museum of Lublin Villages and in museums in Krasnystaw, Włodawa and Chełm.

The artist was granted numerous awards for her artistic endeavours, including the honorary badge Meritorious Activist of Culture. She also received ministerial and municipal awards. In 2016, she was awarded the Gold Cross of Merit, which she received from the President of Poland.

Alicja Mironiuk Nikolska