2010-11 Folklife Apprenticeship Award recipient
Carla Tomaszewski is a third-generation Polish American who uses dyes, batik (wax resist), etching, and painting to create dazzling designs on fragile eggshells. Called pisanki, these intricately decorated eggs are most commonly found at Easter time; they are associated with birth, new life, and resurrection. Decorating eggs as an ancient symbol of rebirth has roots in Polish communities dating back to at least the 10th century. It is a delicate art that was brought across the Atlantic to America and, in Polish communities like the one Carla grew up in in Baltimore, was preserved by immigrants and their descendants. Traditionally, pisanki are made from fresh boiled eggs, which are decorated on Easter Saturday and later shared at the breakfast table on Easter Sunday.
While pisanki often feature floral designs, Carla’s work includes both realistic and decorative bird motifs reflective of Polish folk art as well as the Tidewater region of southern Maryland that she now calls home. Carla was awarded the Cavalier’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by the President of Poland in 2009 for her numerous artistic contributions towards furtherance of knowledge and appreciation of Polish culture.