Decorating Easter eggs is a strong tradition in our family, and more generally, in Lithuanian culture. One person who perfected this art form of art is my sister, Ramute.
She was born in 1953 in Toronto, Canada. At the age of three, she contracted polio during the last major polio epidemic—just before the Salk vaccine became available. This illness left her legs paralyzed. She moved with her family to Chicago in 1964.
After graduating from the University of Chicago, she lived for two years in Lithuania, under communist rule, where she studied Lithuanian linguistics at the University of Vilnius and pursued her interests in traditional folk art and customs. She frequently visited national museums to study examples of ancient Lithuanian folk art. To improve her skills, she sought out living folk artists, in remote villages of Lithuania. She not only learned these styles of artistic expression, but she advanced and perfected them.
Polio has never stopped Ramute’s life’s journey and her active passion for art.
She showed her art works at several personal exhibits at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, in addition of numerous art fairs in the Chicago area. A permanent display of her decorated eggs can be seen at the Balzekas Museum, 6500 S. Pulaski, Chicago. Examples of her art can also be viewed at the University of Minnesota, the Toronto Public Library, and the Portsmouth Museum in England.
Besides her art work, she also had a passion for the Lithuanian language. For many years she taught Lithuanian language at the Lithuanian Pedagogical Institute, in Chicago. The results of her original research in Lithuanian linguistics were published in 1982 in the scholarly journal, Musu Kalba (Our Language). This seminal work was reprinted in 2009 in the book Siaures Amerikos Lietuviu Kalba (North American Lithuanian Language).
She translated several Lithuanian text books into English and in 1990 authored her own book to self-learn the Lithuanian language. Due to the political changes that were taking place in Lithuania at that time, this book was unfortunately never published. In 2003 she published her book Lietuviu Kalbos Istorija (History of the Lithuanian Language) in Chicago.
In 2007 she unexpectedly passed away from a heart condition.
Besides her inventive and skillfully colored Easter eggs, her drilled eggs are stunning in their beauty, not to speak of the incredible amount of painstaking work that went into making them. Her etched eggs are extremely subtle, and the hanging birds are highly original. She had a life-long fascination with Sherlock Holmes and was active in the South Downers–a Sherlock Holmes club–she created a series based on this theme. Acknowledging the importance of the Jewish heritage in Lithuanian history, she created Hanukkah eggs and hanging birds.
A special scholarship fund has been established, in Ramute’s name, at the Lithuanian Foundation. The proceeds on the assets of the fund will provide annual scholarship support to a student studying Lithuanian linguistics. All donations are fully tax deductible from US federal income taxes. Checks should be made out to the “Ramute Plioplys Memorial Fund / Lithuanian Foundation” and sent to:
14911 127th Street
Lemont, IL 60439
Further information about the Ramute Plioplys Memorial Fund, and the Lithuanian Foundation, can be found at: www.lithuanianfoundation.org