Wednesday April 12, 2006

Art of the Passion

Marian Library exhibit "The Passion in Wood and Straw" features folk art in Lithuanian and Polish styles.

Two artists who work in traditional mediums are now displaying their work at the University of Dayton in an exhibit titled "The Passion in Wood and Straw." 

Crosses carved from wood in the Lithuanian folk art tradition and images of Christ "painted" with appliquéd straw in the Polish folk art style are on exhibit through Friday, May 12, in the Marian Library Gallery, located on the seventh floor of Roesch Library on the UD campus. Admission is free, and the gallery is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (937) 229-4254 to make arrangements to view the exhibit during additional times.

Traditional Lithuanian designs and symbols are incorporated in the crosses, crafted by Daytonian George Mikalauskas, who has been working with wood for more than 50 years. His early crosses were created for wayside shrines, many of them in Lithuania. Now, his crosses represent themes of hope, love, peace and forgiveness. Two of them recall his visits to the cities of Neringa and Palenga on the Baltic Sea.

Mikalauskas' crosses of oak, walnut, butternut, cherry, coffee wood and linden wood are intended for home use, and some of them will be available for purchase. The exhibit includes 45 carved wooden crosses and 17 straw paintings.

Pieces of straw and a razor blade take the place of paint and brush in
the hands of Marian Paskowicz, of Norristown, Penn., who began creating straw art at the age of 16. Using paintings of famous artists as his guides, he has created scenes of the crucifixion, the flagellation of Christ and the Pieta, in addition to images of the Madonna and child.

"Many persons in Poland do straw painting," said the artist, who came to the United States in 1960. "But in the U.S., it is rare only because artistic persons never have been exposed to it and never have thought of straw as a real or true art medium."

For media interviews, contact Father Johann G. Roten, S.M., at (937) 229-4214. For more on the Marian Library, see http://www.udayton.edu/mary/gallery.html.