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Petrykivka Modern Art

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Natalia Rybak has been making these interesting ornaments for more than half a century. She started painting in the Petrykivka style while she was still in school. Now she is an honored folk artist.

“It is a living thing. Everything matters here: mood, weather, and the tools you use,” Petrykivka ornament master Natalia Rybak said.

Natalia uses droppers, cotton sticks and her fingers to paint. Everything comes in handy. But the main tool for the most delicate workmanship requires a cat.

“First you have to hold serious high-level negotiations with the cat to obtain her explicit consent. If you don’t – the cat will scratch you and run away. You trim some fur under the cat’s paw, neck, and chest. Then you take a sharp stick, put fur around the tip and attach it with a thread,” Rybak said.

Natalia says that you don’t need special skills to draw and offers our film crew a chance to try. In 15 minutes a piece of blank paper transforms into a pretty postcard.

“Be brave! Good! Go on, go on, don’t stop! Beautiful, isn’t it?” Rybak says.

80-year-old Volodymyr Hlushchenko has his own tricks of the trade. He outlines the ornament with powder. He calls it “sprinkling.” This method is used to produce an exact copy.

“I drew it on paper according to the measurements. To make two exact copies and spend less time, I do it like this,” Head of Board of the Petrykivka Center for Folks Arts Andriy Pikush said.

Masters of Petrykivka ornament paint on glass, wood, ceramics and even cloth. Initially, this style was used to decorate houses. Aside from decorative purposes it also had a more mystical meaning.

“In general the purpose of this ornament was a defense against evil. Without the ornament the house was not protected; children and the family were not protected,” Pikush said.

Artists encode meaning in the ornaments. Elements like flowers, birds, and berries symbolize rebirth, prosperity and family.

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