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Walker’s Point Creative Collective hosts folklore themed art gallery

Photo by via wikimedia

Photo by via wikimedia

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Baba Yaga is an ugly Russian witch that lives in a cabin built on stilts in the forest. Whenever she appears, the wind blows and the trees groan, and the flowers she plants around her cabin cause an approaching person to see chicken legs below her abode.

While some may be confused or even terrified at the mention of this character of lore, to artist Samuel John Szymborski, the Russian folktale of Baba Yaga provided utter creative inspiration. After producing pieces based on the witch and her tale, Szymborski brought his art at the Walker’s Point Creative Collective this past Saturday, where the winter gallery was folk and folklore themed.

The WPCC’s featured artists spanned multiple disciplines from painting to sculpture to music, and has since Josh Ebert founded of the collective.

“WPCC was founded on a group of amazing artists that needed a place to pool our efforts and talents, and push the art movement in Milwaukee,” Ebert said.

Several of the collective’s artists had work on display at the folk art gallery, while others like Szymborski were brought in specifically for the theme of the winter display. It was his eye and passion for such an eclectic type of art that sparked the interest of Ebert and Emmy Yates, the gallery director who helped bring outside artists on board for the gallery.

“We just examined the artists that we had a part of the collective, and knew that was something we wanted to see come out of them artistically,” Yates said. 

Aidan Gouran is another one of the artists not a part of the collective that Yates got involved in the gallery. Gouran had sculptures on display based on of the Runic alphabet. 

“To me, folklore is primarily an oral tradition passed down through generations,” Gouran said. Yet with his and other art pieces on display telling fascinating stories of culture, the Walker’s Point gallery was constructed to prove that folklore can also be passed down visually.

As Szymborski explained, the draw to turn folklore into artwork came to him (and does for many other artists) unexpectedly. After studying drawing and painting at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts, he stumbled on pyrography, otherwise known as wood burning, while getting supplies for another project and seeing it in a store.

“I wound up seeing stuff like this and I was like, ‘That’s really cool, and I could do that,’” Szymborski said. “All the stuff was really cheap, so I bought all the materials, and I just started doing it two years ago.”

Pyrography proved to be an art form perfect for telling the story of Baba Yaga, and was included in the several pieces Szymborski made depicting the folktale for the Walker’s Point winter showcase.

The entire gallery and event, studded by the artwork of artists like Szymborski and the organization of Yates, emphasized the value of community often seen in folk art. Volunteers from around Milwaukee came together to provide the unsponsored gallery with resources that would make the event complete.

“Food was made by mothers and aunts, beer was provided by breweries that some of the artists work at,” Yates said. “It’s all community, friends and connections.”

The folks of folk art are a tight-knit bunch, and the WPCC had the vibe of a spirited family gathering this past Saturday. Those interested in similar art events should keep an eye on the WPCC’s upcoming schedule, and see if one could find sudden inspiration like the Baba-Yaga-fascinated Szymborksi once did.

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