Talisman Exhibit by Jennifer Domal
Opening Night Reception
About the Artist
Jennifer Domal is an award-winning contemporary folk artist, educator, and Master Artisan of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. She was first introduced to the art of writing pysanky at the age of three, learning to use beeswax to create intricate designs on eggshells.
Jennifer’s varied career began with a degree from West Chester University in Music Education—Percussion, graduating cum laude with Honors. After years of encouragement from fellow artists to pursue her talent in writing pysanky, she returned to West Chester University for her BFA in Studio Arts with a concentration in Sculpture and Crafts. She has taught at the Chester County Art Association, the Center for the Creative Arts, and holds workshops for various organizations.
Jennifer’s Lithuanian-Polish heritage is a large part of her craft. While she faces an unusual challenge for a pysanky artist—she is highly allergic to eggs, and must take great precaution when blowing and preparing fresh eggs—her dedication to the art form impresses peers, curators, and collectors alike. Learning the traditional folk art, designs, and customs around the family’s kitchen table has evolved into her exquisitely detailed batik egg art and folk pysanky.
Jennifer has exhibited her art in museums and galleries throughout Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Her artwork is sought by international private collectors, including in Japan, Australia, France, Belgium, England, the Netherlands, and Italy. Pieces are curated in collections at Penn State Great Valley, Blue Ball Barn as part of the Delaware Folk Art Collection, and others.
Jennifer currently lives in Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she sources most of her components locally. She teaches drawing, sculpture, and pysanky writing, and delights in combining science with art. She is inspired by her menagerie of dogs, cats, a pond full of fish, and her husband, not necessarily in that order.
About the Exhibit
Talisman represents the authentic roots of pysanky, taking traditional designs and exploring their continuing evolution.
Pysanky is rebellion against the forces of evil, both in legend and in history. There is power in the history of pysanky, tied into tradition, ethnicity, and identity. These talismans grasp that ancient power and bring it forward into the modern world.
We may think we have escaped ritual and the need for talismans, but who among us has not rapped on wood, carefully picked a four-leaf clover, or held onto a treasured memento to help us through day-to-day life.
In Slavic cultures during pagan times, the egg was seen as a symbol of rebirth. Eggs were decorated and used as part of rituals to worship the Sun god, using the first fruits of the land to repel the deep dark winter and its accompanying demons. The dyed eggs invited spring and its associated good spirits.
Pysanky are written with melted beeswax directly on blown dry eggshells, rather than drawn or painted. The artist keeps their hand steady while turning the egg to create the design. Specially prepared dyes and patterns have been passed down matriarchally for millenia. Designs varied from village to village, region to region, home to home, as they do now.
Teaching pysanky is encouraged, both within families and to others. Everyone is invited to put wax on the shell, dip into dye, repeat, and then experience the excitement of melting the beeswax off to reveal their own talisman. For, as the folk legend says, the more pysanky that are written, the tighter the chains that hold back the terrible demon which would otherwise destroy the world.
This exhibition has pysanky, wax resist, and dyed blown eggshells, as well as batik art eggs inspired by traditional talismans and original designs of the artist on varying sizes from the familiar chicken to exotic swan, sturdy goose, peahen, and magnificent ostrich shells.