Ziolkowski, Korczak (1909 - 1982) -- sculptor, engineer, designer
Korczak Ziolkowski was much more than a sculptor. He was also a planner, engineer, architect, surveyor, driller, dynamiter, bulldozer operator and master of many vocations. He was also a philosopher and historian. This Boston-born stone sculptor was a true pioneer who, in 1947 at the age of 39 started his greatest sculpture, the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Chief Crazy Horse was the leader of the Sioux Nation that defeated General Custer in 1876.
This gigantic monument, when completed, will be 563 feet high and 641 feet long. Ziolkowski was well-trained for this undertaking. He assisted in the carving of the Mount Rushmore monument. After his death in 1982 the colossal Crazy Horse Sculpture is being continued by his wife, Ruth, and members of his family.
To complete the job, a total of six million tons of stone will have to be cut from the mountain. The cost of this project is being met by funds collected from tourists, private contributions, and Ziolkowski's personal funds.
From: Wally West
Sculptor. Born 1909 in Hartford, Conn. His sculptures were exhibited at the World's Fair in 1939 in New York City. Sculptures made in marble are made in his Workshop in West Hartford, Conn. In 1939 engaged by the famous sculptor Borghum, from Dakota. He sculptured the head of Governor Wilbur L. Cross of Connecticut, whose portrait head in stone was on view in the Connecticut Building at the World's Fair. Well-known for his outstanding work in sculpture. He sculptured the head of the late Ignace Paderewski which is 3 feet high and weighs about 1200 pounds. It is carved of Serrayezza Carrara marble and it also was exhibited at the World's Fair Exhibit of American Art.
From: "Who's Who in Polish America" by Rev. Francis Bolek, Editor-in-Chief; Harbinger House, New York, 1943
Korczak Ziolkowski, Sculptor
Mr. Ziolkowski was born in Boston of Polish descent. He was orphaned at age one and grew up in foster homes. He was completely self-taught. He never took a formal lesson in art, sculpture, architecture or engineering. Yet, at the World's Fair in New York in 1939 he won first prize for his work: "Paderewski - Study of an Immortal." It was at this time that Chief Standing Bear heard of Mr. Ziolkowski and invited him to carve a memorial to Chief Crazy Horse on the Hills of South Dakota. He arrived on May 3, 1947 and began plans for the memorial. On June 3, 1948 the first blast took place and the mountain was dedicated. At that time, Mr. Ziolkowski pledged that it would be a non-profit, educational and cultural project, and it would be financed by private donations. He did not want the government involved, and, in fact, twice refused offers of ten million dollars from the government. He also pledged never to take a salary.
"My fellow Chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes too." Sioux Chief Henry Standing Bear wrote those memorable words to sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski in 1939, inviting him to the Black Hills to carve a mountain memorial to Chief Crazy Horse. Korczak Ziolkowski accepted the invitation and thus began a life-long dedication to a promise, a promise he would work to fulfill until his death on October 20, 1982, a promise that his wife Ruth, and his children continue to fulfill until this very day.
The dedication, commitment, and sacrifice that motivated Mr. Ziolkowski and his family should make every Polish American proud and encourage us to imitate this noble family.
From: The Korczak Ziolkowski Family Foundation (2003)
Additional article about the Crazy Horse sculpture