For the last 20 years, Sofika Zielyk has been making Ukrainian Easter eggs, known as “pysanky,” in her East Village studio, a craft she learned from her mother at age six.
Pysanky is an egg-decorating tradition that started during pagan times. The Hutsuls – mountain people of Western Ukraine – believed the fate of the world depended on the pysanka. As long as the custom continued, the world would exist.
Decorating a pysanka takes Zielyk anywhere from one hour for a simple chicken egg to a week for an ostrich egg. Depending on the design and size, her pysanky retail for $30 to $1,500.
Zielyk’s art has been exhibited as part of the Smithsonian Resident Associates Program and at the Embassy of the Ukraine and the Russell Senate Building on Capitol Hill. Her work also is on permanent display at the Ukrainian Museum and the Embassy of the Ukraine in New York City.
When she’s not making pysanky, the native New Yorker works at the Barnard Library and tutors children in Ukrainian.