Mado Kucharski – master of ikons

On a recent wintry Sunday afternoon, Cleveland’s Polish American Cultural Center members and guests had the opportunity to meet and talk with a unique artist visiting Cleveland from Krakow Poland.

Icons and stained glass have been the passion of Mado Kucharska from the time she was a student at the College of Advanced Educational Studies in Krakow.  She began exhibiting the icons she painted in the early 1990’s.  Since then, she has been showing her work all over Europe in prestigious exhibitions and galleries.

Currently Mado Kucharska is working on an icon for St. Stanislaus church in Cleveland.  She admits she would not have known quite how to begin working on one of her pieces unless she saw first-hand where her work would be exhibited and for whom.  Wanting to discover the atmosphere and “climate” of the city, the church and the parish that would house the work, Mado traveled to Cleveland and to St. Stanislaus.  No photos nor even a video could ever quite convey the feelings and atmosphere she needed to experience and understand in order to create an icon for St. Stanislaus.  All that Mado saw and experienced here will now go back with her to her studio in Krakow. Observations, impressions and knowledge derived from conversations and experiences with local people and parishioners of St. Stanislaus will be translated by Mado into the work commissioned  for the church.

In April of this year, a group of parishioners from St. Stanislaus will travel to Krakow to bring back the icon painted in tempera.  The theme chosen is Pope John Paul II and St. Stanislaus Church.

Mado Kucharska told the audience about how her fascination with icons began.   We also learned many interesting facts about the history of these religious paintings and how they are created. For example, gold applied to an icon cannot touch any other color in the picture.

For further information about Ms. Kucharska’s art, the history and process of creating icons, be sure to visit Mado Kucharska’s website: According to Ms. Kucharska, the most important elements behind the creation of an icon are understanding theology and the religious conviction of the artist.

As I watched and listened to Mado Kucharska, I could not help but be struck by the warmth, sincerity and openness of this petite lady.  At the luncheon she spoke eagerly with all those she met to learn more about Cleveland and the people of St. Stan’s and to illuminate the history and techniques of icons.

I eagerly anticipate the arrival of her work in Cleveland at the end of April and hope that we will see her warmth, peacefulness and joyous approach to life, religion and art reflected in the icon for St. Stanislaus church in Cleveland.

Dorota M. Tomaszewska
Translated by Zofia Wisniewski

Forum, 2/2007