Oleksandra Pryveda carefully arranged her display of Ukrainian Easter eggs on a table, setting a place for children to give their own artistic skills a try.
She was just a child when she painted her first egg, a tradition from her homeland.
Her station was one of many during the State Capital Museum’s kickoff to the With Our Hands: World Folk Arts of Washington exhibit that opened Saturday.
The exhibit will be up through the rest of the year, said museum staff member Len Balli.
“All the people involved for the exhibit are from Washington,” Balli said. “We are hoping to get some of (the artists) down here to do classes.”
Among the folk artists was 27-year-old Travis Skinner, a woodcarver. Skinner was working on making a trilobite out of a piece of old-growth Pacific yew.
“Most of the wood I use is from the Olympics,” said Skinner, who also makes his own tools.
Skinner, whose skills were honed during his youth under the tutelage of his father, didn’t learn to fully appreciate wood carving until his 20s.
“I didn’t realize how much I learned as a child,” he said.
Skinner was representing the Arbutus Folk School of Olympia, which plans to offer a variety of folk art classes this summer.
One table over, Melissa Gomez was showing embroidered dresses meant to be worn during Cinco de Mayo and quinceañeras.
Gomez’s mother taught her how to embroider when she was young.
“I embroidered these all by hand – it’s all me,” Gomez said. “You have to keep the tradition alive.”
The tradition of decorated eggs runs deep for Pryveda. In the Ukraine, girls paint the eggs the week before Easter, then leave it to the younger children to break the eggs and put the pieces in family gardens, Pryveda said.
“I remember my mother gave me an old Easter egg and told me to break it,” Pryveda said. “I said I couldn’t break it; it was too beautiful.”
As per tradition, then 4-year-old Pryveda broke the egg. The next year she painted her first, and she has since decorated thousands.
“Doing these all my life, it’s almost impossible to count; but I also don’t have the same two eggs,” Pryveda said.
A similar show of folk art will be held in August aimed toward teachers.
“We want to get teachers in the doors so they can see what we have to offer for field trips,” Balli said.
The State Capital Museum is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays.