Polish Folk Art Open House

Date(s) - 03/29/2024
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm


Come visit the Humanities Center on Friday, March 29th from 5:30 – 6:30 pm to see our exhibit of Polish folk art. The open house will be held in 4101 JFSB. Walter Whipple, former BYU professor and mission President in Poland will join us to tell us about this collection.

Refreshments will be served.

The Carpenter: Representations of Joseph in the Polish Folk Art Tradition

Joseph, the humble carpenter, gently and faithfully cared for his family as husband, father, guardian, and protector. This honorable man had a God-given responsibility to care for Mary and when no other room could be found, he created a safe place for her baby to be born. When Jesus’ life was threatened, he moved his family to safety seeking refuge in Egypt. He raised Jesus as his son and passed down his skill as a wood worker to him.

Our featured artists, much like Joseph, are fathers and wood workers and many have passed down this tradition to their children. Indeed, working with wood is what unites this exhibition. Living in remote villages all over the Polish countryside, these artists work in folk-art traditions with roots stretching to the Late Middle Ages. The earliest wood carvers used their artistic skill to create shrines, church statues, and roadside crosses. The sculptures in this exhibit are smaller in scale and were designed for private devotion in the home. With his connection to Mary and Jesus, St. Joseph is frequently represented by these folk artists, who strive to imbue a unique spirit in each piece.

This exhibition was made possible through the generosity of Walter Whipple, a woodworker and former BYU professor, who recognized the importance of the Polish wood carving tradition and gained a deep respect for the artists and their work while serving as a mission president in Poland for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the early 1990s. During his time in Poland, and in the years since, he has gathered and preserved a world-class collection of Polish Folk art which he loves to share with others. Having known each of our artists personally Whipple commented that, “the artist cannot hide behind his medium . . . this is certainly true of folk artists. I believe the personalities of the artists are evident in their work.”

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