Artist breathes life into egg tradition

Sunday, May 5, 2002

KIEV, Ukraine -- Inside a ramshackle Soviet-built apartment building not far from Kiev's gold-crested onion dome cathedrals, Galina Ivanets bends over an egg, transforming it into a tiny, brilliant piece of art.

"Pysankarstvo" -- the art of painting Easter eggs -- has enjoyed a renaissance as part of the religious and cultural awakening in post-Soviet Ukraine following decades of state-sponsored atheism. Although associated with Easter, which is celebrated today in mostly Orthodox Christian Ukraine, the eggs are sold year-round.

Back in the Soviet era, Ivanets was an economist. But she says the Chernobyl disaster 16 years ago robbed her of her health, leaving her unable to work.

But it left her time to rediscover the art, which dates to ancient times when eggs were considered symbols of the origin of life. With the advent of Christianity, the art of making decorated eggs, or pysanky, came to symbolize the spiritual renewal associated with Easter.

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