Local Artist David Motak Honored by Both Polish Parliament and the Polish Cultural Council
Local artist David Motak of Bethel Park has been appointed by the Parliament of Poland to be a member of the Honorary Committee for the “Byc Polakiem” (“To Be a Pole”) Project, co-chaired by former Polish President Lech Walesa and Minister of Foreign Affairs Radek Sikorski.
The Byc Polakiem initiative encourages young people of Polish descent around the world to express their love of their Polish heritage through literary works, poetry, art and electronic media.
Separately, Mr. Motak will be honored as Polonian of the Year by the Polish Cultural Council on Tuesday, August 7 at Kennywood Park’s 81st annual Polish Day. The Polish Cultural Council’s mission is to showcase the best in Polish arts and sciences and promote unity of the region’s Polish-American community.
Mr. Motak is world renowned for his creation of the Pittsburgh Szopka Project and his establishment as a graphic designer and internationally recognized folk artist is the result of a life-long study of Polish culture folk art and his more than 30 years of experience as manager of various cultural programs within the nonprofit sector.
The Pittsburgh Szopka (pronounced “shop-kah”) Project derives from a traditional Christmas folk art from the Polish city of Cracow. Originally designed as sets for puppet theaters in the churches of Medieval Cracow, over time, the szopka art form evolved into increasingly elaborate and ornate structures. The City of Cracow today holds an annual szopka competition each December and szopka art works are increasingly in demand by art collectors, museums and private art collectors worldwide.
In planning this first szopka workshop, Mr. Motak conducted extensive research to develop a unique teaching methodology for the creation of this old-world folk art. As szopka building has never been formally taught in Poland, there were few resources from which to draw, so, through extensive research, trial and error, Mr. Motak set out to create a totally new teaching method.
Since that time he has traveled to Poland extensively to research the art form, meet with szopka masters and refine and expand his own personal szopka creations. This effort has resulted in establishing Mr. Motak as the pre-eminent szopka master in the United States and one of the most highly recognized szopka artists in the world.
Mr. Motak and partner John Samuels launched the Cracow Creche Workshop szopka project, which provides educational workshops, exhibitions, special commission works, cultural tours to Poland and other programs connected with Polish art and culture. Mr. Motak has also developed a widely respected repertoire as a producing artist and an increasing number of his szopka pieces are featured in private and public collections, including major commissioned pieces for New York’s prestigious Gagosian Gallery and Frederik Meijer Gallery in Grand Rapids, MI, the Berks County Polish-American Heritage Center, Reading, PA, as well as several private collections.
In 2010, Mr. Motak became the first foreigner to enter a szopka piece in the annual Cracow Szopka Competition, receiving a special award for artistic merit.
In 2011, Mr. Motak became the first artist to exhibit the szopka art form in Asia when he and Mr. Samuels traveled at the invitation of Sun Hung Kai Properties, a major Hong Kong retail and investment firm, to exhibit several of his szopka pieces at their flagship Landmark North Center facility. As part of the exhibition, Mr. Motak was commissioned to create a special szopka incorporating several Chinese and Hong Kong elements, including a motorized Chinese dragon. Mr. Motak’s szopka exhibition was extensively covered in the Hong Kong media and drew thousands of visitors from both the former British Colony as well as from mainland China.
Mr. Motak is Director of Communications for the Polish Falcons of America and is editor of its publication, Sokol Polski, which he transformed into one of the most dynamic Polish-American publications in the country. He is also editor of Polish Heritage, the official publication of the American Council of Polish Culture. He serves as an ACPA national board member. He is also a member of the Polish Arts League of Pittsburgh.
More information on the Pittsburgh Szopka Project can be found at: www.cracowcrafts.com.