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Maria Chrostek

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Love of Kurpie art

Right after she turned eighteen, Maria Chrostek of the village Tatary became a member of a Folk and Artistic Handicraft Cooperative Kurpianka. There, she would submit cutouts, Easter palms, kierc and pająk decorations of her own design. As the artist herself admits, she liked making them a lot, because after a hard day’s work, making e.g. coloured paper cutouts was sheer pleasure. It relaxed her, so she would cut whenever she had a moment to spare.

Meeting Mrs Chrostek is not only coming into contact with an artist of enormous achievements and merit; it is also meeting a good and wise human being. Modest and full of warmth, she is equally enchanting as her works. It is worth just to spend some time with her, looking at her hands, keeping as a souvenir her warm-hearted smile, along with her cutouts. Maria Chrostek comes from a family, in which the tradition of making ceremonial art have been very vibrant. Her parents, Stefania and Stanisław Konopka, were renowned folk artists. Moreover, her aunt (her father’s sister) was the famous Czesława Konopkówna, who made Kurpie folk art famous all over the world. Maria Chrostek is the mother of two known artists: Wiesława Bogdańska and Janina Jaksina. She lives in her family village, Tatary, and to this day, despite her old age, makes different designs, colors and forms of Kurpie cutouts: the lucky tree of leluja, stars or birds, with masterful precision. Her cutouts are characterised by a delicate cut and good model symmetry. They are highly artistic and at the same time technically correct. Maria Chrostek also makes single Kurpie flowers and bouquets of tissue paper and feathers, Easter palms and all sorts of beautiful Christmas tree decorations or Easter eggs. She bakes the ceremonial Kurpie breadstuff – byśki and nowe latka; she makes kierce decorations of peas, beans and straw, as well as pająk decorations of feathers.

She began early in her life; as a child, she helped her mother, whose cottage industry was cutting out decorations for the above mentioned cooperative Kurpianka. Mrs. Chrostek also learned the craft from Czesława Konopkówna. She was also a cottage industry worker, weaving carpets, rugs and tablecloths. She is nostalgic about the times of the cooperative, as it was a source of extra money. Life was hard after the war, and the cooperative opened the opportunity of additional income.

The artist has participated in several regional and national competitions and exhibitions of folk art, at which she received numerous awards and honourable mentions. Due to the high artistic level of her products, rich design and a wide range of art practised, her work was presented outside the country, including Switzerland, Denmark, and several times in France. She takes active part in folk art fairs and cepeliada events in Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, Płock and Ostrołęka. Her works can be found in ethnographic museums in Warsaw and Krakow.

She was awarded, among others, with the Cultural Activist Award of Merit badge of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, a Commemorative Medal Pro Masovia, the Medal of Merit for Cepelia, a honorary diploma for achievements in Preserving Polish Culture, as well as the Medal of Merit for Polish Culture. Now, because of her age, Maria Chrostek participates in events taking place only in the immediate vicinity.

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Adres miejsca

Tatary, 07-420 Kadzidło
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606 185 851