Jennifer Santa Maria

908 377 0408

The art process I practice and teach is known as pysanky, or egg decorating. This art form requires me to imagine the finished product while I’m working. Dying the egg from the lightest color to the darkest means that each color is a step of sealing in that areas of the design in wax. A writing tool filled with hot wax draws on the egg and preserves the dye underneath so a new dye can be applied. By the time the egg is complete, the entire surface is covered in black wax until the last step of melting it off by the heat of the flame.  The design doesn’t reveal itself until the end, which affirms my predictions or teaches me something new. The eggs I exhibit are worked on raw and if designed in the wrong state of mind the egg will break or crack.  It takes an immense amount of patience to create a single egg. Despite the fact it is an ephemeral art, eggs are heirlooms and collected objects around the world.
            There is a great deal of folklore associated with pysanky as it is an ancient tradition, and though I appreciate the meaning it has in European countries like Ukraine and Poland, the process of creating them is what draws me to the art. It has been the most therapeutic art process I have ever experienced, and has brought meaning into my life as I am the only known instructor in New Jersey.  Traditionally, the art was passed down from mother to daughter.   I was fortunate enough to learn from a talented woman who didn’t have any daughters. Every spring season I work toward my mission of sharing this very unique process with the public to keep the art alive. Belmar Arts Council was one of the first venues to welcome me as a teacher of the art!