Pysanky, a Ukrainian tradition, are empty eggshells covered with elaborate, colorful decorations inscribed in wax. The beautiful shells remind us about the fragility of life.
For nearly 20 years, Oakland architect Marcie Gutierrez has hosted an annual spring pysanky-making gathering at her home. This year, her longtime friends Michelle Hlubinka and Casondra Sobieralski suggested the group of 30 Bay Area artists and hen keepers make pysanky to benefit the people of Ukraine. Their creatively decorated eggs, many laid by local hens and geese, are painted in bright hues and inscribed with designs from folk images to flowers.
Several members of the artist group have ties to Ukraine, so the project is personal. Albany resident Erin Coyne has immediate family in Kyiv and has spent years in Ukraine working for nonprofits. Elaine Dykman learned pysankarstvo (the art of pysanky-making) as a child from her mother, a second-generation Ukrainian, who had taught the art for many years.
“Erin and Elaine are the beating heart of it all, with their immediate family connections to Ukraine and pysanky making,” says Gutierrez. “Michelle Hlubinka and Kristen Policy spearheaded the Elmwood exhibit, the Peaceanky website, and the auction [on eBay].”
Information about the process, the legends, the artists, and the eggs now available for sale can be found at the collective’s website, peaceanky.com. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to Nova Ukraine, a nonprofit providing humanitarian aid to Ukrainians affected by the war.
The group has their finished eggs displayed in a storefront window at 2946 College Avenue in the Elmwood District of Berkeley, and you can also get an up-close look at each egg on the eBay site, where they are posted for the fundraising auction.