MARIAN OWCZARSKI, MARCH 11, 2007
Josef Stalin, the Soviet nemesis of Marian Owczarski, was known as the ‘man of steel’. In actuality, it’s Owczarski, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s artist-in-residence, who should wear the title.
The sculptor, born in 1932 in Lukow, Poland, discovered metallurgy shortly after World War II, choosing stainless steel as his medium of choice because, “In 1945, steel represented the future. Plus, the melt temperature of stainless steel is nearly 5000 degrees. Stainless will be around after a nuclear holocaust.”
A man of diverse talent, works in wood, glass, stone, plaster, marble as well as metals, but ultimately, however, his sculptures in steel appears to be the best representation of his vision, both touching and powerfully meaningful.
Much of that is the result of his background. Following a harrowing childhood (he grew up in one of the towns most targeted by Nazi, and was severely wounded at the age of twelve), Marian Owczarski received a graduate degree in sculpture from the Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts in 1961, and for period of time was involved in restoration of Polish churches damaged during the war. He traveled to the United States and worked on a number of sculpting projects, generally religious in nature, but always returned to his native Poland. However, his twin passions, Catholicism and art, were at diametrical odds U.B.—the Polish equivalent of the KGB. He began the long struggle to escape, finally securing a visa good for one month. He went to Canada to complete some art projects he’d begun earlier, and never went back.
Following an exhibition in Washington DC in 1970, Owczarski was approached simultaneously by Saint Mary’s College and Princeton University to become an artist-in-residence. He now laughs, “I was just over from Poland, I’d never heard of Princeton! So I went with Orchard Lake, where they all spoke Polish…”
He’s been there ever since, living on campus, directing the Galleria, Orchard Lake’s open-to-the-public art gallery, where many of his sculptures are on display.
His sculptures have been exhibited in eleven countries and over 50 cities, including Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, Frankfurt, Paris, London, Moscow and New York.
St. Mary's College Galleria
3535 Indian Trail
Orchard Lake, MI 48324