The Art of Tradition
Published: February 28, 2013
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As long as they are created, the world will continue to exist.
According to a Ukrainian folk tale, the fate of humanity depends upon pysanky eggs. If the eggs, which have traditionally been decorated with intricate designs and a variety of colors, are not created, the legend states that evil will overcome the world.
This Lenten season, Abingtons residents will have two opportunities to learn the ancient art of pysanky egg decoration at both the Abington Art Studio and the Abington Area Community Classroom.
Diana Lombardi, who owns the Abington Art Studio, explained that the eggs are a Lenten tradition in Eastern European households. Since learning the art while teaching in the Mountain View School District, Lombardi and her family have adopted it as their own.
"I really take to the beauty of tradition, which so many families nowadays lose," she said. "When I saw this, I thought about how gorgeous it was to bring your family together and do something artful and creative but still have that link to tradition and if you wanted to connect it to the symbolism of Easter."
"Pysanky eggs are a beautiful art form," she continued. "As difficult as they look, there are ways, as in any art form, that you can attack it so that it isn't as difficult as you might think. Every single one of them turns out beautiful in the end. They are very impressive to the artist and to everyone who looks at them."
Pysanky eggs are created by using beeswax, a tool called a kistka and a candle. The artist draws the design on the egg and, using wax, he or she covers the parts that are to remain white. The artist then works in a color spectrum ranging from light to dark, using the kistka tool to deposit wax onto the egg. The wax helps protect the lighter colors while the artist continues to darken the egg.
While the process of creating a pysanky egg is a story in its own right, Pat Lawless, who teaches the course run by the Abington Area Community Clasroom, explained that the eggs themselves hold a special meaning.
"There are contemporary artists that have created their own designs and vocabulary, but the eggs predate Christianity," she said. "Many of the symbols relate to spring, agriculture and fertility. They depict stylized plants and animals. The eggs are powerful symbols of rebirth and were given as gifts. Many villages had distinct designs."
Part of the symbolism of the eggs lies in the artist's choice of color. For example, white represents purity and birth while black is the color of remembrance, eternity and constancy. Red is the most widely used color, representing passion, love and enthusiasm.
What might be most appealing about the tradition is that the artists can personalize their designs as they see fit.
"What is always wonderful for students of any age is that they can come up with a beautiful piece of artwork in the end but also have it connected to themselves," Lombardi said. "They choose colors and symbols that represent themselves or something they are connected to in certain ways. There's not a lot of art where you can say there is a part of you in it."Classes in Ukrainian pysanky egg decorating to be held locally