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Down Syndrome Art, Growing-up in socialistic Poland

Kasia Puciata 1961-2004 Life of an artist with Down Syndrome

Last Conversation February 7, 2004

Mom’s Notes: – I put the cell phone in Kasia’s ear. Joasia was crying. When she asked “Do you love me?” Kasia nodded her head to say yes.

Sister about Sister

It is not the length of life, but the depth of life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
 

…My Big Sister Kasia was born with Down Syndrome in 1961, in a country and culture not well prepared to handle what they thought were abnormalities. Some were ashamed to have us over, some clearly requested Kasia stayed at home, others advised putting her in a foster home, as not to ruin family’s good image.

exerted from Vague Memories

….So many times my Mom and I fought the cultural vulgarity, scaring the spectators away, making them ashamed for a split second. Over the years everybody got used to Kasia’s presence, allowing for friendships to be formed. The whole street knew who Kasia was. She used to make rounds from store to store, just hanging around. Grocery store, meat store where she’d have a cup of coffee and a veal Vienner, and finally a barber shop, where she’d help out holding pins during perms and sit next to the cash register sipping another cup of black coffee.

exerted from Vague Memories

From early on she consciously or not searched for life’s purpose. She didn’t like to be idle and participated in as much life activities as she could, taking advantage of the small freedoms she had when she was younger, and “better in her head” (Kasia’s own words). She had the keys to the house, she was able to board the bus and drive two bus stops to her school without us. She walked back home, making stops at her favorite stores, where over the years she became everybody’s friend and was welcome everywhere.

exerted from Vague Memories

 My sister and I 

Our Father and Kasia – best friends forever

…The day after the funeral, I was awakened by Kasia bursting into my room laughing uncontrollably, mom right behind her trying to calm her down. That was the last time we heard her voice for a long two year period of silence. She took the loss of her best friend and daily companion so deeply, she connected with the inner world and shut down. She started seeing ghosts, had conversations with God, dad and scary creatures who’d come after her.

exerted from Vague Memories

Kasia with Mom

1991

…It took heavy medication and hospitalization to finally get her to start talking again, but it was never the same afterwords. She turned from being happy and outgoing child, to someone who had to search within her inner world to shine some light onto the real one. That’s when she picked-up a pen and stared drawing meticulously and without breaks. Small circles, letter like artistic expressions. It had to make sense to my mom since she bought her paints and white paper. Through her loving eyes she saw something brilliant that made her create a working space for Kasia and start showing her artwork to all the guests. A breakthrough came when a well know art critic saw some of the earlier paintings. From then on it was officially declared my sister had a talent.

exerted from Vague Memories

07-18-2003 Just don’t forget about me!

Kasia’s work table remained untouched for awhile, as if she were to comeback…


For a number of years our Mother noted Kasia’s thoughts in a special notebook. They seem extraordinary when you take into consideration the severity of my sister’s illness. There are different forms of Down Syndrome and Kasia’s was a pretty tough one. Yet, for any of you thinking you could never raise a child with Down Syndrome, for any of you battling with the decision on whether to abort a pregnancy due to the presence of an extra chromosome or not, please take a moment and read through the sentences, look at the paintings, and see how deep of a human being she was. All we ever did for her was to ignore the illness, make fun of situations, give her a loving home with quarrels, fights and laughter and give her every opportunity to fulfill herself. Results speak for themselves.

This website is part of my healing and it is dedicated to our Mother, Maria Puciata.

Displayed miniature part of collection in possession of Joanna Puciata, USA. Main collection is in Kasia’s home, in Warsaw, Poland.

Please contact us for inquiries regarding possible purchase. Not all paintings are available for sale. Painting are all matted, some framed.

Click on an image to make it bigger .

One of the earliest drawings. Kasia went from this

to this….

Where do you dream? Why did God create the world?

Gdzie sie sni? Czemu Bog stworzyl swiat?

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“A different way of perceiving”

Here is what one the the greatest Polish art critics had to say:

Andrzej Oseka, 19.06.1992 , published in Gazeta Wyborcza.

“In one of the naves of the church of the Saviour (kosciol Zbawiciela) in Warsaw, you can see a small exhibition of gouache sketches, compositions almost abstract, amongst which we find the simplest sign-like motives depicting a tree, a window or a road.  Sometimes we look up into a high bright space in which, in accordance with the intentions of the artist we recognise the interior of the church.

Bold, strongly and confidently constructed paintings resemble the “informel” style of the early 1960’s, particularly Soulage’s.  A little like de StaÑ‘l.  However all aesthetic influences are impossible here.  The author,  Kasia Puciata, was borne with Down’s Syndrome.  The usual way of perceiving was not available to her.  She tried – with the help of those close to her – to somehow join the world.  She copied letters from a first grade schoolbook, tried embroidery and playing the guitar.   Three years ago she tried painting for the first time.  I consider the results astounding.  It has to be a different way of perceiving since this art is so mature, so beautiful.  The paintings are maintained consistently in one colour scheme.  Usually the colours are warm, juicy and soaring.  The world has been divided into two planes; the first, dark, with muted colours, opens up into a more distant space and there you see nature, air, sun.  The trees are blooming and the grass is green.  Bright hues connect artistically with muted ones.  Together they form perceptible matter and, what is very difficult to achieve in a flat painting, spatial depth.  Unexpectedly landscapes of the romantics aren’t brought to mind.  This is emotional art, romantic, and the style of execution remains always similar. Through a dark frame you see a bright and colourful world.”

Polish translation:

Co napisal o pracach Kasi  znany krytyk p. Andrzej Oseka  obejrzawszy jej  wystawe  prac w kosciele Zbawiciela w 1992 r.
              Inna droga postrzegania
  W jednej z naw kosciola Zbawiciela w W-wie zobaczyc mozna niewielka wystawe szkocow gwaszem,  Kompozycje  prawie abstrakcyjne , znajdujemy w nich jednak najprostsze, sprowadzone do znaku,  morywy  przedstawiajace : drzewo. okno, droge. Lub patrzymy w wysoka, rozswietlona przestrzen,  w ktorej  zgodnie z intencjami autorki – rozpoznajemy wnetrze kosciola  Smiale ,mocno i z rozmachem budowane obrazy przypominaja “informel”  z poczatku lat  60,  zwlaszcza Soulagesa . Troche de Staa-dla  . Wszelkie wplywy estetyczne sa tu jednak wykluczone. Autorka Kasia Puciata, urodzila sie z zespolem Downa ” Zwykla droga postrzegania zostala  przed nia zamknieta”. Starala sie – z pomoca najblizszych – jakos wchodzic w swiat. Kopiowala litery z elementarza, haftowala, usilowala grac na gitarze. Trzy lata temu  sprobowala malowac. Rezultaty uwazam za zdumiewajace. Musi byc jakas inna droga postrzegania, skoro to malarstwo jest tak dojrzale, tak piekne. Obrazy sa utrzymane konsekwentnie  w jednej gamie barwnej. Zwykle sa to barwy cieple, soczyste, strzeliste. Swiat zostal podzielony  na dwa plany:pierwszy – ciemny, o stlumionych kolorach, otwiera sie na bardziej rozlegla  przestrzen – i tam widac  przyrode, powietrze , slonce. Kwitna drzewa , zieleni sie trawa ..Barwy ostre  powiazane  sa malarsko  ze zgaszonymi. Razem – tworza  czytelna dla zmyslow  materie i – co w plaskim obrazie  jest rzecza naprawde trudna – glebie przestrzeni . Nieoczekiwanie nie przychodza na mysl  krajobrazy romantykow. To jest sztuka uczuciowa, romantyczna a jej przeslanie pozostaje  zawsze  podobne: poprzez  mroczne obrzeza  obrazu  widac swiat jasny i barwny.
  Andrzej Oseka  19.06. 1992

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04-01-2002  I wish to be like before, to look different, to look like Kasia!

Chcialabym byc taka jak przedtem, wygladac jak Kasia!


When is Joanna coming back? I think she’s not.

Kiedy wraca Joanna? Mysle, ze nigdy.

Mom’s writing: My house became very silent, less people come to visit ever since my second daughter left. Kasia respected her a lot. Joanna loved Kasia but did not tolerate her deviant behavior. Kasia never even thought to misbehave next to Joasia. Now when Joasia asks questions in her letters is Kasia practicing her writing, is she smiling, Kasia does that right away. Kasia knew that Joasia loved her very much and that she will be with her all her life.

What does she (Mom) think now? I don’t know.

O czym ona mysli? Nie wiem.

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02-19-2002 Spring is coming. It’s getting cloudy.

Wiosna idzie. Robi sie pochmurno.


Why are you so aggressive?

Czemu jestes taka agresywna?

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It’s a good think I can talk!

Dobrze, ze moge mowic!

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05-16-2002 How is it in Heaven?

Jak jest w Niebie?


There are small rooms in Heaven, beds, two rooms and two beds. Who lives there? All that feel safe about the future. They will not fit all, and I will have to sign out of school.

W Niebie sa male pokoiki, dwa pokoje i dwa lozka. Kto tam mieszka? Wszyscy ktorzy czuja sie bezpieczni o swoja przyszlosc. Wszyscy sie tam nie zmieszcza i  bede musiala wypisac sie ze szkoly!

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06-25-2002I feel good today and tomorrow I will be normal…

Dobrze sie dzisiaj czuje, jutro bede normalna..

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08-22-2002 The doctor checked if I was normal

Lekarz sprawdzil czy jestem normalna

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I am usually so crabby, it is hard for me to live.

Zwykle czuje sie marnie, ciezko mi zyc.

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09-15-2002 I am curious as to what will happen tomorrow.

Ciekawi mnie co sie stanie jutro.

Why are you staring at the computer screen, not me?

Czemu sie wpatrujesz w komputer a nie we mnie?

I will go to the other world. And why? Because people go there and I am interested too.  Since everybody goes there I am going too.

11-17-2002I want my  paintings to be full of expression.

I am fat – I will not eat.

I would like to know when is the end of the world. Is it on Saturday, Tuesday or maybe Wednesday? The priest says we don’t know yet.

How do they burn in hell?

1-27-2002 It’s much healthier to stay at home

Do you die in your clothes?

09-25-2002 I have no ambition to go to school!

I don’t want them to chop my brain!

It is good in Heaven and miserable on Earth!

12-19-2002 Mom doesn’t know I exist!

If I leave this world, there will only be me in Heaven and the rest, where will they be? I know who will go to Heaven and who will go to Hell!

12-28-2003 I pray for you (mom)

When everybody raises from their graves that’s when I will contact God!

02-05-2003 Today I am in good form

07-01-2003I am glad we are staying at home today, because I have a big problem with going to school.

02-10-2003 I am lonely

02-18-2003 Tomorrow I will make an experiment

God will do confessions.

Will He have time to talk? Can one can come to Him and talk seriously?

02-20-2003 Why are there  no women in Teleexpress? (Polish News)

Kasia knows that when one does not behave at school he goes to foster home. There they tie you up with safety belts and hit you. Foster home is a total disaster! She is happy she comes from her own home.

02-25-2003  I need a little space so I can get some rest

03-28-2003  I feel very relaxed

04-10-2003I will survive without school!

07-04-2003 Mom is thinking; she can’t see anything.

04-13-2003When Liniewski calls tell him that I am cheating on him! (Kasia’s love)

05-20-2003 Are you going to miss me?

06-15-2003Why are you lonely mom?

Mom: What did the doctor say? Kasia: That you have to talk to me more.

06-16-2003   Kasia- I talked to the doctor today. Mom – And what? And he was thrilled!

06-16-2003 Today was an exam from getting up from the bed.

Dzisiaj byl egzamin z wstawania z lozka.

06-26-2003    I am very sad today.

Jestem dzis bardzo smutna.


12-08-2003     I woke up so early to see if mom was alive.

Obudzilam sie tak rano by zobaczyc czy Mamuska zyje.

07-18-2004   It was a feast!

To byla uczta!

11-05-2003   Why did you get so old? (mom)

Czemu sie tak postarzalas? (mamo)

01-07-2004            Are  you going to burry me at Powazki (name of the cemetery)

Burry me in Powazki and cover with soil, like you covered Father!

Czy pochowasz mnie na Powazkach?

Pochowaj mnie na Powazkach i przykryj ziemia, tak jak przykrylas Ojca!

Kasia Puciata passed away on Feb 16, 2004.

She knew she was going…

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