The art and craft of pysanky

Fragile Canvas

A Solo Gallery Show by Teresa Mihalko Harbert

April 2 through May 7, 2017

at the Art & Soul Gallery of Oak Hills Church
1100 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom CA 95630

Probably the number one question I am asked about this art called pysanky is, “Are they real eggs?”  The answer?  Yes, they are very real eggs.  God created an engineering marvel with those shells, sturdy enough to withstand the mama bird’s weight as she keeps them warm before they hatch and yet designed so the baby bird can still peck its way through to life on the outside.

 

Over the years I have accidentally broken eggs at every stage in this creative wax-and-dye process.  From exploding an egg while emptying it, to smashing one as I reach for it on my work area, to bobbling another as I remove layers of wax, and even dropping one or two as I proudly tried to admire my finished work of art.

 

Frustration does not adequately describe my feelings each time this happens.  And after mourning the loss and cursing my clumsiness I eventually reach for another egg and begin all over again.

 

This solo exhibition show has been a long time in coming.  It is the joy of creation and the pain of loss all tangled up in thoughts and eggshells.  Let me take you on my art and faith journey from the initial idea to the actual show you will see in the Art & Soul gallery.

 

It all starts with my love for tiny details.  I actually crave the quiet hours alone required to create these eggs.  That’s my time to push away the busyness of the “regular” world and focus on one small thing at a time.  And once in a while as I work God gives me an idea to ponder.  This time it started with the eggshells themselves.

 

The show title, Fragile Canvas, came quickly and I knew that somehow I needed to demonstrate it, not just tell about it.  I decided to create an egg and then break it on purpose for a photo for the show’s title page.  Creating the egg was a joy, but I was surprised at how reluctant I felt when the time came to break it.  It was much more emotional than I expected.

 

I finally got out my camera and readied the photo shoot area.  Then I took a few minutes to marvel at the designs and color choices on my finished egg’s surface.  This goose egg had been such a pleasure to work on because it was unusually smooth.  Most goose eggs have small bumps and pits on their surface so the wax lines appear to waver as they move across the egg.  Dyes don’t always adhere as brightly either but this particular egg behaved perfectly every step of the way.  Looking at the finished egg I started to doubt myself, did I really need to break it?

 

I wrestled with my decision quite a while before bringing the egg down sharply onto my desk.  Hearing that distinctive “crack” actually sent a shiver up my spine and I felt an immense sense of loss.  I had changed that egg forever with one swift movement of my hand.

 

As I inspected the damage and gently picked up the pieces, I marveled at the beauty of the egg, even in its broken state.  This is where God again gently spoke, reminding me that our lives are also fleeting and must be handled with great care.  We are all made of fragile canvas and yet even in our broken state, we still have beauty.

 

Fragile canvases indeed.

3 responses

  1. Erin Pace

    Tears of understanding and thanksgiving. Your gleanings are precious to me, Teresa, as I remember clearly the time we spent together when you shared your skill with me. The spaciousness that comes from your hours in small spaces is grand and hearing your thoughts as well is icing for sure! Thank you so much for sharing this particular story. I look forward to passing it on!

    April 4, 2017 at 11:22 am

    • Thank you Erin. I’m so glad God spoke to your heart through my words and my art. It is a blessing to count you as friend.

      April 4, 2017 at 2:56 pm

  2. Love it! And God can only use us when we’re broken!

    March 28, 2017 at 9:23 pm

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