University of Pittsburgh
December 2, 2008

Pitt to Host Cracow Crèche Exhibition and Reception Dec. 14

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Observing a custom rooted in the Middle Ages, several budding area artisans will unveil their latest creations at the sixth annual Pittsburgh Szopka Exhibition and Holiday Reception, from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 14 in the University of Pittsburgh's Frick Fine Arts Building Cloisters, 650 Schenley Dr., Oakland. The Nationality Rooms Program and Polish Nationality Room Committee are sponsoring the free public event.

Szopka ("shop-kah"), Cracow crèche, is a folk craft that transforms wood, cardboard, colored foiled paper, ribbon, and other materials into ornate miniature architectural structures ranging in height from a few inches to several feet. Unlike the traditional Western nativity scene, the szopka portrays historical buildings from Cracow. These constructions, first displayed in Cracow churches as puppetry in religious morality plays, were once used to celebrate the launching of the Polish holiday season. Through the efforts of David Motak, a Pittsburgh area artist-educator, the Cracow Crèche Workshop has been taught in this country for six years. The workshop is the only formal crèche-construction class of its kind in North America.

More than 20 szopki made this year by Pittsburgh-area artisans at szopka classes as well as by parents and children at two free public "mini" workshops at the Pittsburgh Children's Museum in November will be on display at the Dec. 14 event. In addition, traditional Polish holiday music and ethnic food will be available at the reception.

An added attraction at this year's event will be a preview of "The Poles in Pittsburgh: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," a multipanel exhibition on the history of Poles in Western Pennsylvania. Developed by Motak for the Polish Cultural Council, the exhibition celebrates the achievements and contributions of Poles in the region. The exhibition will travel to various locations in Western Pennsylvania throughout 2009.

The project was made possible through the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts program of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) and is funded through an annual legislative appropriation administered locally by ProArts. The PCA is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, contact David Motak at 412-835-0539 or; or call the Nationality Rooms Program office at 412-624-6150.