The Office of the Marshal of the Voivodeship of Łódź (Łódzki Urząd Marszałkowski) has increased funds for cultural initiatives for the following year! There is an open call for submissions with project ideas, which can span the fields of culture, art, creative promotion, education and cultural education. It is the largest increase in funds for the competition in the city’s history: 600,000PLN.  200,000PLN have been designated for Chopin Year celebrations.

In the first half of February, the Department of Culture and Education will announce a contest for festival grants, the winner of which will receive 950,000PLN. There will be another contest in the second half of February for conservation and restoration projects on historical buildings in Łódź. Two million złotys will be designated for this purpose (!)

Here’s a link to this article (in Polish): Urząd Marszałkowski dzieli pieniądze na kulturę

By the way, I finally got around to posting links to PDF’s of my Fulbright Personal Statement and Statement of Grant Purpose — in English and Polish! You can find them on my blog, under A Little Background.

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On Thursday, January 14th, I boarded a bus along with three other girls from the Carpet and Gobelin Studio and made my way across the border into Germany for the Heimtextil 2010 tradeshow– an international trade fair for home and contract textiles. (I’ll add one of my maps to show our route as soon as my Photoshop is up and running again).

The fair was held in Messe Frankfurt, an enormous exhibition complex.

It was an incredible space–it felt like an airport, with moving walkways to help get you from one hall to the next in an efficient manner. The architecture of the center was very impressive. Here’s a picture of the ceiling in Hall 3, which I found online (since we weren’t allowed to take photos of anything at the fair).

Here are some pictures that I (secretly) managed to take from inside of Messe Frankfurt, looking out onto the city…

As a textile designer, I found the fair incredibly inspiring, but simultaneously overwhelming– there was so much to look at! There were literally THOUSANDS of fabrics, wallpaper designs, rugs, pillows, bedding collections, towels, linens, etc. on display! And after a 16-hour bus ride, it was sensory overload.

The exhibition center was huge and the halls were organized by merchandise. Each company exhibiting at the fair had its own display stand, and each had a different approach to attracting potential clients: free eco-friendly bags, catalogs, pens, etc. I was more partial to a beautifully designed display… but a free pen never hurts. My favorite stand by far was for Kaeppel, a German bedding design company (www.kaeppel.de). They had little vignettes of bedrooms displayed…vertically! So, there would be the bed (dressed in their gorgeous printed sheets) with a little nightstand next to it, on top of which would be a book, jewelry box with a pearl necklance pouring out, a pen, etc… somehow all attached to defy gravity! Very cool.  I attended two of the many organized seminars as well. One was about the trends of 2010/2011, as seen in the merchandise from the exhibitors. The other was geared more towards the business-side of designing textiles.

In terms of trends, there’s a lot of nature-inspired design going on right now; they called it “Hyper Nature” and “Futur-Rustic” — lots of natural fibers, an emphasis on texture through fabric manipulation (pleating, folding, stitching, smocking, quilting, cut-work, etc.). It was sort of nature meets technology–albeit in an effortless symbiosis. Another trend is what they called “Temptation.” Rough luxe– rich textures–velvets, leathers; saturated colors: purples, chartreuse, golds; modernity meets tradition– ‘digital classics.’ There were also lots of animal prints done in a new way. The fourth trend was called “Intuition” and had a bit of an 80s feel, but 60s at the same time– bright primary colors, lots of geometry, laser-cutting. I immediately thought of the Color Chart exhibit at MoMa back in 2008: Ellsworth Kelly, Gerhardt Richter, Yves Klein, Jennifer Bartlett, François Morellet…(www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2008/colorchart/flashsite/index.html)

Anyway, the trade fair was amazing. I got a real boost of energy from it… textile design is definitely my passion in life… it’s proven over and over again. But all this talk of the trade fair. How could I visit Frankfurt am Main without seeing…. Frankfurt am Main, right? Exactly. That’s what I thought. They didn’t schedule any time for us to sight-see. So, I took it upon myself to coerce one of the girls to accompany me to the Modern Art Museum (MMK, Museum für Moderne Kunst, www.mmk-frankfurt.de). We bought a map, hopped on the U-Bahn, took a walk down Zeil Strasse– Frankfurt’s equivalent of Łódź’s Piotrkowska Street–and made it to the museum!


Check out the incredible architecture of this shopping center on Zeil Strasse!

Emilia and I tried to get a picture of ourselves with the hole in the background… so close.

When we finally made it to the museum, I was totally awed by, once again… its architecture. It was designed by Hans Hollein, a Viennese architect. Frankfurters affectionately call it a “slice of cake” because of the building’s triangular shape. Here’s a bird’s-eye-view of the building.

Honestly, it looks much better inside than it does from the outside. There are a series of passageways connecting exhibition rooms to each other, with open areas that allow the viewer to look up, down, and across the entire museum, as well. It’s incredible.

What’s even better is the museum’s collection of art! We happened to visit when the current presentation of works from the MMK’s collection is focusing on American and European art of the 1960s and major examples of Pop Art and Minimalism. (LUCKY!) There’s also a comprehensive solo exhibition of works by American artist Sarah Morris. Here’s a wall painting she designed with the unique post-modern architecture of the museum in mind.

Robert Rauschenberg, Navigator, 1962

Andy Warhol, Most Wanted Man No. 11, John Joseph H., Jr., 1964

Claes Oldenberg, Bedroom Ensemble, Replica I, 1969

Roy Lichtenstein, We Rose Up Slowly,1964

On Kawara, Date Paintings,1966-1989

Joseph Beuys, Lightning with a Glare on the Stag, 1958-1985

Peter Roehr, Untitled, 1966

"Whether what I am doing is art, I know not; On the other hand, however, I would not know what else it could be."

After we finished viewing the museum’s collection, we made our way back to Messe Frankfurt to pick up our bags from the coat check, and then met up with the rest of the group at the train station to go home! 16 hours later, we were back in Łódź!

Szopka Jasnogórska

January 1, 2010

A few days after Christmas, I took a train from Warsaw to Częstochowa to spend New Year’s with my mom’s family. On New Year’s Day, my aunt, uncle, and I attended mass at the basilica on Jasna Góra and went to see the nativity scene that is set up on the ramparts of the monastery every year.

On our way to the nativity scene, or szopka, we stopped to admire a whole courtyard full of Christmas trees that were decorated by elementary school kids around Częstochowa.

The szopka jasnogórska is one of the biggest nativity scenes in Poland and is famous for its live animals: sheep, goats, bunnies, birds, donkeys. The animals are loaned from farmers, as well as from the Silesian Zoo in Chorzów (Śląski Ogród Zoologiczny). There are little wooden huts for the animals, since they are outside, in the snow!

The most important part, however, is the actual nativity scene. It’s housed in an enclosure under the monastery.

Personally, I thought there was a little too much going on…

Here’s a picture of me and my uncle in front of Jasna Góra–behind us is a statue of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński… designed by Jan Kucz and funded by a Polish couple (the Sawko’s) from Chicago.

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński was the Primate of Poland from 1953-1981 (during Poland’s most trying times– he was arrested and jailed for 3 years under the Communist regime). The statue is meant to show his complete submission to the Virgin Mary, kneeling in a sign of humility. Cardinal Wyszyński is often called the ‘Primate of the Millenium,’ as he celebrated Poland’s 1000th anniversary of Christianity in 1966. (Mieszko I baptized Poland in the year 966). By the way, a ‘primate’ in the Roman Catholic Church is the honorary title of a bishop who has superior authority over all other bishops–in this case–in Poland.

He was also a dear friend of Pope John Paul II. There’s a famous picture at the Holy Mass for the inauguration of the pontificate of John Paul II when Cardinal Wyszyński kneels to pay homage to the new pope by kissing his ring, and the Pope embracing and kissing him instead, in an expression of his respect for the cardinal.

The memorable gesture was immortalized on the back of a limited edition 50PLN banknote in 2006…

Next to the image is a quote by John Paul II: “There would be no Polish Pope on this chair of Saint Peter… if it were not for your faith, undiminished by prison and suffering, your heroic hope…”