Wood, Nietszche, and the butcher's shop

This young Polish-American’s family history spans these two countries across three generations. Stefan Rurak swims against the current. A few years ago, he took a break from his university studies and left New York for Krakow. He lived with his family and worked as a manual laborer, renovating an old hotel. He cleaned up an abandoned, pigeon-infested attic, plastered walls, and installed windows and doors. He got to know the workmen— the gorale (south Poland’s mountain-people)—who invited him to their village for the weekend. He feasted with them in the Polish style, and these are probably the only two days of his life he cannot remember. Today he lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, parts of which are culturally not too distant from Poland, where he has a studio in which he creates unique furniture, lighting, and accessories from [solid] wood. It is quieter now, but in the past a lot had been going on in his life: performance art in which he acted as a crucified hen, a series of unconventional artistic explorations, the Peace Corps in Surinam, and fashion modeling. Today, in his free time, he does yoga and reads Nietzsche. When asked about inspiration, he states, without a shade of contrivance, that a hunk of meat in a butcher’s shop can inspire him as much as any visit to the MoMA. (Translation by Zbigniew T. Rurak)

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