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March/April 2001 issue

A Ukrainian Easter

by Karen Myers

Though Easter is still a few weeks away, the wonder of the celebration of Christ's resurrection and the warmth of the sun as it rises in the sky will soon be upon us. The coming of the Spring heralded by blooming jonquils, migrating robins, and the chirps of bluebirds as they claim their territory, has always been a special time of year for me. The fact that it is also my mother's favorite season has, I'm sure, prejudiced me greatly. We both rejoice at the breaking chills, some of which are still upon many of Emu's Zine's faithful followers. I can promise in all sincerity that the warmth is coming as I can look out upon our gardens full of buttercups and mention the fact that Herman and I have already been fishing in our pond at Angels' Rest.

Pattywda.jpg (71660 bytes)As it happens, it is probably more than coincidence that Easter holds the same magic for Patty Wiszuk-De Angelo (the pretty lady to the left). With Emu's Zine's Extravagant Emu Egg Contest last year, many of you were introduced to Patty and her acid-etched "Cossack" emu egg. 

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Ukrainian Cossack
Winner of the Extravagant Emu Egg Awards 2000

Her unique interpretation and incorporation of Pysanky in her art is leading Patty down many exciting roads. Using the traditional kistka in creating the beautifully intricate colors, symbols, patterns, and designs of Pysanky, Patty continues to carry her art to a new plateau working with her interpretations of traditional patterns. Her most recent work began when she substituted the dyes used in Pysanky for acid that is used to etch, in Patty's case, emu eggs, on which she has created some equally mesmerizing creations. In working with the acid-etching, she has discovered the fascination that pulls continually at those of us who work in three dimensions and with eggshell sculpting. 

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Easter Rushnyky

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Celtic Lions (Dyed and Etched Emu Egg)

This fascination is not one of simple tactile sensation but one of visual sensation as well. To completely understand this attraction you must also know with every breath of life you possess that the creation in your hands is taking shape with every turn -- and there is just no other way for me to explain it. But, let's take a bit of a detour for the moment...

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Tied Wheat (Etched & Dyed Emu Egg)

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Easter (Paska) Morning
Etched Emu Egg


For those of us who have a limited knowledge of Pysanky and its rich heritage, many of you are wondering how all of this ties in with Easter.  Well, I honestly cannot explain it any better than the way Patty does and
she states that "Spring is a time for release from the confines of Winter and Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ and the spiritual rebirth of man." Patty continues to explain "with the  acceptance of Christ in 988 A.D., Pysanky became part of the tradition and ritual of the Ukrainian Easter. It took on the symbolism of rebirth as the egg was likened to the tomb from which Christ rose." It was here that Patty told me that the rich ornamentation of the egg began and the eggs, of course, became treasured religious mementos.

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Pysanky is a 4,000 year old tradition that came to Patty naturally. Her roots are firmly planted in the Ukraine, with her grandparents and great-grandparents birth in Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine. Patty's father was Ukrainian while her mother is Irish. Her family, which included two sisters and one brother, grew up in Westwood, New Jersey, though the family ended up losing their father when Patty was 13 years old. It was early in life that Patty discovered that she had inherited more than her Ukrainian and Irish roots; she inherited her gift of creativity from her mother who was a self-taught portrait artist. Both Patty and her mother taught themselves how to create and work with a variety of media, but the turning point for Patty was in heeding the call of Pysanky. Once she accepted this, her work began and she went forward with all the skills, ideas, and inspirations she possessed. This fact, in itself, is one of the reasons that I called on Patty and when you visit her website, http://www.pysankyshowcase.com, you'll see any number of reasons with each egg unveiled before your eyes! Each of these jewels is truly a sight to behold and it is a pure pleasure to see an artist so dedicated to her work. It is even more wonderful to see one growing so rapidly and climbing towards the next plateau!

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With all sincerity, I cannot say enough about her work, but what is even more fascinating to me is that there is both rhyme and reason behind her works of art. Every shape and every color has its own meaning in Pysanky and Patty works with them on each traditional design she creates as well as each of her interpretations of the designs she brings to life. With regards to specific shapes used on these creations, I'll list a few that Patty sent to me along with its meaning written in parentheses:

  • "diamonds" (knowledge)

  • "ladder" (prosperity)

  • "triangles" (The Trinity)

  • "dots" (Mary's tears)

For the colors used in Pysanky, there is:

  • "red" (Divine love, happiness in life)

  • "yellow" (light and wisdom)

  • "green" (Spring, hope, growth)

  • "black" (remembrance)

  • "white" (purity)

  • "violet" (faith and trust)

 All in all, Patty is one very dedicated artist and never hesitates to put her heart into each of her creations. What is just as essential to her as her work, is her husband,  -- who is also an artist that uses words to create his works -- so they share an innate understanding of each other's work. The focal point of their family though is Darya at six years of age, Kalyna, four years old, and two year old Peter. When I say "focal point", that's exactly what I mean because all of the creating is done after the children are in bed! There are no complaints though because it is all taken in stride, which is how she views her work. Her family and her art are as natural and as necessary to Patty as breathing -- spoken like a true artist, of course. Like a true artist, she understands and acknowledges that art in any and every form is a direct reflection of its creator -- so the eggs are not the only objects of beauty here as I'm sure you've already realized. 

In summation, I have only one more point for us to ponder which is a quote of Pablo Picasso and one that Patty shared with me -- "There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into a sun."

 

        Emu's Zine does not diagnose, prescribe or dispense medical advice.  We report and attempt to educate the public about the possible health benefits derived through the use of emu oil based products and consumption of low cholesterol, low fat emu meat.   This site contains personal testimonies and professional observations.   We encourage people to contact their family physicians regarding any health problems they may have for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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