Reason for the season found in St. Francis Xavier parishioner’s hobby
BY DAVID TISDALE
WIGGINS -Krystyna Korba’s hands have done much in her lifetime – from making string musical instruments in high school in her native Poland to milking cows at her family’s scenic dairy farm in the Wiggins, Miss. area.
Then, there was the time she shook the hand of Pope Saint John Paul II, who was also on hand for her confirmation in 1969 when he was still Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła.
In recent years, the wear and tear on her hands and back have limited what Korba can do around the house and farm. Still, with a strong desire to remain as active as possible and be creative, she’s painted Christmas tree ornaments over the last two years, many depicting primarily nativity scenes, as well as some that capture idyllic images of the farm life she’s known for so many years.
With no formal art education, she’s produced more than a 100 of the ornaments that have been a hit with family, friends and fellow parishioners at Saint Francis Xavier. She has also engaged in beadwork, inspired by the art and dress of Native Americans.
“I helped milk cows for about 20 years, but I had to quit because of issues with my back and hands,” she said. “So I sat down one day and decided to take up painting. It’s truly a gift from God and one that I’ve really enjoyed.”
Her husband Danny, who also has Polish roots (his parents left Poland for the U.S., settling in Vancleave before moving to Wiggins), helps in prepping the ornaments, cleaning and spraying them with primer before Krystyna goes to work on the small round canvases, painting Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in the manger, or of wise men traveling from afar to pay their respects and brings gifts to the newborn King, among others variations on the theme.
“Too often when you go to a store, you’ll see ornaments that just portray snowmen or reindeer, but rarely any featuring what she does, which reminds us of why we celebrate this holiday,” he said.
When one meets Krystyna Korba, it soon becomes obvious her faith is an integral part of her of her life. She speaks fondly of John Paul II, especially when recalling the time she stood in line to shake his hand after he transitioned to the papacy from the Cardinal Wojtyła she knew as a young girl.
“It was a wonderful moment when it was announced he was elected. We (Poles) felt a great sense of pride when we heard the news,” she said. “It made me feel even closer to my faith.
“He was such a great man. When you looked him in the eye, you felt like you were with your best friend.”
Korba says she’ll continue pursuing her passion for painting Christmas ornaments as she is able, inspired by her faith and love of the season known best for the gift of God’s son.
“I don’t advertise my hobby to make money. I do it mainly because it brings me joy and I believe captures the spirit of my love for my faith and this wonderful time of year,” Korba said. “I’ve often thought, how fortunate I’ve been to live and work on a farm, often working in a stable like one Jesus was born in.”