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Varsovians: Ewa Solarz

Kids just love what she does and we also share their enthusiasm. She writes books for children for example “D.E.S.I.G.N.” (Dwie Siostry) or “The ABCs of Polish Design” (Wytwórnia). Moreover, she makes exhibitions for the youngest on illustration, art, and design which later on travel around the world.

She has just opened together with Robert Czajka and a graphics studio Kosmos Project an exhibition at Zachęta “Everything is Art to Me”. You can also admire a book under the same title published by Wytwórnia.
She does what school should do – develops aesthetic sensitivity in children.

How was it with your kids? You are an art historian by training. Have you always been drawn to museums?
– It came out naturally. In high school, I used to attend classes on art history at Zachęta. And my kids attended the workshops from an early age.

How did you get here?
– I was a good student in my primary school, but in high school, I started getting bad grades. I thought that maybe it would be cool if I had something for myself. And suddenly I stopped being an A student and became the one who was interested in arts. In the third grade, I already had an index to studies. I didn’t have to learn.

That time the Polish Office of Art Exhibitions organized contests on art. As one of the youngest participants, I got a commendation in the competition on the Polish art after the WW2. It was really something. And it was all thanks to these classes at Zachęta.

And your kids?
– They used to come here every weekend. First, they visited exhibitions, later they attended the workshops based on what they had seen.

Did they do it eagerly?
– They liked them a lot. When we recall these times they always remember that after the workshops they used to eat a candy bar in a small cafe with mirrors. Unfortunately, it is already gone.

It was important to me so that they felt free. Now they enter every museum as if it was their own house. They know how to behave, they don’t feel uncomfortable.

What kind of addressee are kids?
– Very demanding. The worst review? When they say they are bored. And they say it bluntly.

How did you choose the artists for this exhibition?
– It was a difficult selection, I had a lot of names on the waiting list. I was thinking about the exhibition what can function not only as a piece of art but will allow children to interact. Krasiński, Opałka, Winiarski – I instantly knew I wanted these artists. They were my first shots.

I also wanted to invite Julita Wójcik to show controversy which accompanies modern art, her “Peeling potatoes”, her “Rainbow”, which spurred a lot of discussions and evoked extreme reactions. I don’t hide it from children, I don’t show only nice pictures. I want them to feel that they tackle important social issues. My daughter Marianka is fond of the embroidered slogans by Monika Drożyńska. She keeps repeating: “God, Honor, Tesco”.

In the middle of the exhibition, we have special space. What is it?
– I call it a shrine. Because there are real pieces of art hanging there. This is a place where children can learn how to behave in a museum, that you cannot touch pieces of art because they are unique, but you can look at, think and ask questions.

Potatoes by Julita Wójcik which you transformed into pillows seem to be a huge success.
– Yes indeed. Children throw and dive in them. Blue tape by Edward Krasiński also triggers creativity. Children write using it, stick it to their clothes. And I was sure that there will be only blue lines at different heights.

You have dedicated the book to Hania Wróblewska, a director of Zachęta and Mrs. Basia Dąbrowska. Who is she?
– She is a head of the department of education in Zachęta which held classes from the theory of art, which I attended. She took us to the artists’ studios, on field trips where I met Hania Wróblewska, a contemporary director of Zachęta, at that time a young art historian just after studies. I have always adored Mrs. Basia. She was my second mother. Even my real one was a bit jealous of her.

Interview: Agnieszka Kowalska
Photo: Aga Bilska


Ewa Solarz
Ewa Solarz

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