you ever cut paper snowflakes? Many people have discovered the fun
of making these unique creations, but they usually don’t use
big, clunky pair of sheep sheers to do it. Historically, the people
of Poland have cut Wycinanki (vee-chee-NAN-kee), their
traditional papercutting art, using sheep shears because they were
often the only cutting implements available in the rural areas.
Papercutting is practiced around the world, and Polish Wycinanki
is one of the most colorful forms of this art. Originating in the
mid-1800s, it involves the symmetrical cutting and layering of colorful
pieces of paper. Wycinanki has always been a purely decorative
art, with cutouts used as wall or window decorations, notecards,
stencils, bookmarks, lampshades, placemats, holiday decorations,
frames for poems or important documents, and three-dimensional mobiles.
The element of the unexpected in its creation adds a dimension of
joy and fun. Traditionally, Wycinanki designs are cut freehand,
without sketching a design first, from a single sheet of paper.
Magdalena Nowacka-Jannotta, who cut the example shown here, is a
talented Wycinanki artist who now lives in Arizona. Her
designs are cut freehand, using hand-forged sheep shears from Poland.
Significance of Shapes and Colors in Polish Papercutting
birds—free spirit, freedom
rooster—guardian, new beginnings
tree—life rooted, growing, change
circle—perfection with no beginning and no end
red—love, celebration, triumph
The Art of Polish Papercutting by Magdalena Nowacka-Jannotta
(2003: CRIZMAC Art and Cultural Education Materials, Inc.)
Adapted from questionArte
posters by Marilyn Stewart PhD, published by CRIZMAC
Do Artworks always have the meaning the artist intended
them to have?
Is it possible for an artist to intend to express one idea in an
artwork and actually succeed in expressing something different?
In order to interpret the meaning of a work of art, should the artist
always be consulted? Why or why not?
Do the meanings of artworks change over time or from one place to
another? If so, how does this happen?
From the Teacher’s Guide of questionArte
“Talking about particular works of art, as well as about art
in general, can be the most satisfying activity associated with
learning about art and art-makers. Students gain new insights as
they examine and investigate works of art and offer possible interpretations
about meaning. Students learn from each other in the process of
discussing important questions about art. They learn about their
own art-making as they consider what they have accomplished through
Plan: Cut a Wstega (FSTENG-gah)