I have received a flock of Postcrossing cards in the mailbox in these final few days of 2014. The most beautiful one, hands down, is this postcard from Natalia in Poland. She writes:
"This card is coming to you from cold and windy Poland. I sent some cards to make my day a bit brighter. May your Christmas be filled with love, laughter, good food and fine wines."The gorgeous postcard is by folk artist Miroslawa Stefaniak. It features an example of wycinanki, a form of papercutting art in Slavic countries. According to the Polish Art Center website:
"Wycinanki, pronounced Vee-chee-non-kee, is the Polish word for 'paper-cut design'. Just when and why this art form began to flower in Poland seems a matter of some uncertainty. Some say it goes back to the time when few farm houses had glass windows. To keep out the elements, peasant farmers hung sheep skins over the window openings. Then, to let in some light and air, they took their sheep shears and snipped small openings in the skins, and these were soon recognized as decorative as well as functional. The most well known modern styles of Wycinanki comes from two districts. One is the Kurpie cut out. This is usually a symmetrical design, cut from a single piece of colored paper, folded a single time, with spruce trees and birds as the most popular motifs. The second style comes from the area of Lowicz. It is distinguished by the many layers of brightly colored paper used in its composition. The unique richness of paper-cut designs done in the Polish tradition is a special contribution to the artitistic heritage of the world."If you like this postcard, the Polish Art Center, located in Michigan, sells two sets of eight folk-art postcards by Stefaniak. Set A contains the postcard that was mailed to me from Poland. And there is also a Set B.
a Polish-language website that I found, Stefaniak learned the art of wycinanki from her mother and sisters and has been creating art for nearly two decades.
She is considered one of the most talented artists in Poland and her work has been exhibited in New York and Chicago.