Art Guide: Introduction The Sculpture Of Janusz Korczak

Information on the American born, Polish sculptor Korczack Ziolkowski, including biography and a look at his work.

Dreams can come true if you push forward hard enough to overcome hardships. Throughout time inventions, discoveries, medicine, machinery, improvements, electricity, space age have come about by people who had determination to conquer burdens.

Korczak Ziolkowski visualized a better future for the American Indian. He resolved to fulfill his image of them.

Korczak became a well-known sculptor in spite of the fact he never took lessons in sculpturing. He studied the works of the masters. At age 24, he carved a marble portrait of Judge Frederick Pickering Cabot, a famous juvenile judge, who had befriended him. Judge Cabot had noted Korczak's talent and had encouraged him in the area of the arts.

Korczak established a successful sculpture career throughout New England and New York. His marble portrait, Paderewski, won first prize at the 1939 New York World's Fair.

Korczak, Boston born of Polish descent in 1908, was orphaned at age one. He lived in many foster homes as a child and was mistreated. He learned heavy-duty construction skills under one of his foster fathers. At age 16, he was on his own. He worked at odd jobs, saved his money, and sent himself through Rindge Technical School in Massachusetts

In 1939, Korczak realized a dream of his when he went to the Black Hills of South Dakota and worked as an assistant to Gutzon Borglum in carving Mt. Rushmore. The Latoka Indian Chiefs became acquainted with his work and invited him to carve Crazy Horse.

Korczak spent time at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He met Chief Henry Standing Bear who taught him the ways and beliefs of the Sioux Indians and Crazy Horse.

He sculptured a 13 1/2-foot of Noah Webster of the City of West Hartford, Connecticut in 1941-42. One of the student volunteers on this project was a student named Ruth Ross.

During World War II, Korczak suffered wounds. After the war, the United States Government tried to commission him to create war memorials. But, he decided to accept the Indians' invitation to carve Crazy Horse.

In 1946, Korczak arrived in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He resumed his warm relationship with the Lakota Indians, with Chief Henry Standing Bear, and with some of the survivors of the Battle of Little Big Horn.

He gave comprehensive study of the life of Crazy Horse. His continued close association with the American Natives increased his love for them and his belief in them. In his heart he thought of himself as one of them.

From a piece of the Tennessee marble of his Noah Webster's stature, he carved Crazy Horse with his arm outstretched. (1/300th scale model)

Korczak and Chief Standing Bear decided to carve Crazy Horse on a 600-foot mountain. Korczak named it, Thunderhead Mountain. He resolved to carve the entire mountain in the round instead of the top 100 feet as first planned.

On June 3, 1948, the Crazy Horse Memorial was dedicated with the first blast at the top of the mountain for Crazy Horse's face. Volunteer Ruth Ross helped him build a 741 step stairs to the mountaintop.

At first, a jackhammer was the only tool Korczak had to begin this world mammoth project. Each year afterwards, a new piece of equipment was added: power compressors, bulldozers, wagon drills, caterpillars, 26 ton scaffold on track, and electricity at the mountain's top.

The first admission charged for adults was 50 cents in 1950. Thanksgiving Day of that year Korczak and Ruth Ross wed. They were married 32 years and had 10 children.

Korczak taught his wife and the children what he knew about sculpturing. All worked on the mountain carving.

During his work, the sculptor received broken bones, back injuries, four spinal operations, diabetes, arthritic, heart attack, and quadruple heart bypasses.

On October 20, 1982, at age 74, Korczak passed away unexpectedly and the family laid him to rest in a tomb below Crazy Horse on Thunderhead Mountain. He left books of plans for the mountain carving to be carried on. His family has worked diligently on his dream.

Korczak's relentless, hard-driving persistence overcame problem after problem. This genius of stone carving became one of the greatest sculptors of all times. He defended his love for the Indians with a love that can be seen and felt in the Crazy Horse Monument.

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