Sam Wróbel specializes in the Polish papercutting folk art of wycinanki. Born and raised near Chicago, Illinois, Sam learned to make wycinanki as a child from folk artist Doris Sikorsky. As an adult, Sam worked as an in-store sign artist for Trader Joes, and eventually left Chicago to travel. Sam encountered Lafayette and fell in love with the community and culture. Sam moved to Lafayette in 2017, and started Sparrow Papercraft in 2018 to share their wycinanki folk art with the world. With just paper and scissors (and sometimes the traditional tool, sheep shears), Sam creates intricate designs, often full of color. Now based in Elton, LA, their work is influenced by traditional Polish motifs, social movements, their travels, and the vibrant culture of Southwest Louisiana. Sam is on the board of the Guild of American Papercutters, and the editor of their monthly member publication.
Who makes up your art circle?
The amazing arts community of Acadiana has welcomed me from the time I first arrived here, and I owe a lot to this community. Local artists were so supportive and helpful when I was first getting Sparrow Papercraft started. Now I work with the Acadiana Center for the Arts, through their Teaching Artist Program, to share my folk tradition with a wider audience. My wycinanki teacher, Doris, who is 84 now, is still a huge part of my life and creative community. I also have a wonderful art circle through the Guild of American Papercutters, which has members throughout the country and even the world!
How do you expand your art circle?
My art circle has expanded working with local orgs like the ACA and Basin Arts, through membership in the Guild of American Papercutters and the Louisiana Crafts Guild, and through teaching.
What value do you see in having a creative community?
A creative community is so vital for support, inspiration, resource-sharing, and collaboration. So much of our society focuses on the individual, and this can be both isolating and creatively stifling. It was the openness and kindness of the creative community I found in Acadiana that drew me here – it is really unlike anything else I have found in my travels!
How does your artistic approach contribute to your community?
At first, I thought no one in Louisiana would care about my Polish folk art. Thankfully, I was so wrong. The focus on tradition bearing and cultural preservation in this community is so strong, and my work celebrates Acadiana through my own cultural tradition.