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The Cracow Creche Workshop™, is an educational endeavor established in 2003 to promote the appreciation of the Cracow Szopka. It was created by folk artist-educator David Motak with the assistance of his partner, Jack Samuels, a former education administrator. In addition to creating his own commission szopka art, Dave has also presented lectures and workshops in Western Pennsylvania and around the country. He has exhibited his szopka art throughout the United States as well as oversees. Dave has also periodically hosted exhibitions of student works, escorts cultural trips to Poland and Central Europe and coordinates various other cultural activities.
A folk craft with roots that go back hundreds of years when they originated as puppet theaters in the Cracow, Poland, the szopka ("shop-kah") or Cracow creche, is an art form that transforms ordinary materials such as wood, cardboard, foiled paper and ribbon into ornate miniature architectural constructions of varying sizes.
Based in Pittsburgh, PA, the “Szopka Project” has grown tremendously over the past several years, becoming both national and international in scope. During that time, through numerous workshops, lectures, exhibitions and cultural events Artist Dave Motak has established the Szopka Art Form in the United States and has become the nation’s leading expert on Szopka Making and history. Dave’s efforts have been supported by various funding agencies, including the Institute for Cultural Partnerships, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the PA Humanities Council, among others.
In addition, Dave’s individual work as an artist continues to attract increased recognition both nationally and around the world. His professional achievements include receiving the prestigious 2009 Working Artist Award from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, the National Cultural Achievement Award from the American Council on Polish Culture and his contributions to the cultural life of Western Pennsylvania were recently honored by a special proclamation by the Pittsburgh City Council declaring November 10, 2011 "David Motak Day" in the City of Pittsburgh. With the opening of an exhibit of his work in Hong Kong on November 23, 2011, Dave became the first artist to introduce the szopka art form to Asia. For more information on Dave's work, please click here.