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Jamestown woman gets grant to learn German, Polish paper-cutting arts

Sabrina Hornung comes from a family with a strong German heritage. She is exploring some of that heritage by learning the German art of cut paper called scherenschnitte. Hornung is also learning the Polish version of the same art called wycinanki...

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Sabrina Hornung comes from a family with a strong German heritage.

She is exploring some of that heritage by learning the German art of cut paper called scherenschnitte. Hornung is also learning the Polish version of the same art called wycinanki.

"The difference between the German and the Polish (art of cut paper) is the German work is primarily in black and white and deals with silhouettes," Hornung said. "In wycinanki, the layered paper tends to be more colorful."

Horning received a grant through the North Dakota Council on the Arts' folk art and traditional apprenticeship program. Hornung said the grant's purpose is for people to learn folk arts and pass on that knowledge. She said she has been working with Meridee Erickson Stowman of Tower City, N.D., for about two months.

"We're (Hornung and Stowman) hoping to get a show together," Hornung said. "We have to go out into the community and do a lecture or demonstration of some kind."

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Hornung said growing up in family where German traditions are observed piqued her curiosity about German folk art and culture.

"My family is mostly German," she said. "My grandmother came over from Germany in 1955 and is always showing me different German traditions. She cooks the German food. We have closets full of drindls , the traditional German dresses."

Hornung said she originally applied for the folk art and traditional apprenticeship program to get a grant to learn rosemaling, the Norwegian folk art that involved painting a floral motif of pieces of wood like a bed headboard or above the entrance to home. She said Troy Geist, folklorist with the North Dakota Council on the Arts, suggested she apply for a grant to learn scherenschnitte.

Hornung said while scherenschnitte and wycinanki look like they would be easy art forms to learn, she said they are actually intricate and complicated. Hornung said the woman who taught Stowman had a book of patterns that she used for here scherenschnitte pieces.

"Works are done free hand, some are designed," she said about the forms used in scherenschnitte. "We have glue and dab it on with a toothpick, then hold the pieces together."

Hornung said when she told her grandmother about the grant and that she would be learning how to do scherenschnitte, her grandmother got really excited.

"'Oh, everybody loves scherenschnitte,'" Hornung said about what her grandmother told her.

Born and raised in Jamestown, Hornung had been living in Fargo for two years before moving back to Jamestown in January. She works at the All Vets Club and said she is starting work this week as editor of the High Plains Reader, a weekly independent publication that covers the Fargo-Moorhead area.

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Hornung said she and Stowman hope to do teach some sort of class or have an exhibit of their work later in the fall. One possibility they are looking at is teaching the craft to elderly people in nursing homes and assisted-care facilities.

After graduating high school in 2002, she attended Minnesota State University Moorhead to study art.

"My main area of interest was photography," Hornung said.

When she dropped out after the first year, she lost her access to a darkroom for developing film. She said she delved into alternate forms of developing photographs, mainly making cyanotypes. Cyanotypes is an older photograph-developing process, which is essentially how blueprints are made.

Hornung works in mixed media, usually collages using photographs and transforms the photos into another work of art. She said her work includes a lot of Western imagery.

"I guess you could call me a Coca-Cola cowgirl," Hornung said.

Her work has won awards in juried art shows in the Arts Center.

An exhibit of her mixed media work will be part of a traveling display through the North Dakota Art Gallery Association starting October. The exhibit will be in Ellendale, Mayville and Minot.

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