In Tribute: ‘Gosia’ Koscielak-Krolikowska was a celebrated global artist and passionate Wilmette volunteer
A native of Poland, Margaret Koscielak-Krolikowska found a second home in Wilmette and both she and the community enjoyed the benefits.
“Gosia,” as she was affectionately called by family and friends, died in October 2021 at the age of 58 after a brief battle with cancer.
Since moving to Wilmette in 1996 with her husband, Jerzy, and daughter, Maya, Gosia was an active member of the community as a business owner and civic participant with TedxWilmette, Wilmette Woman’s Club and Wilmette-Kenilworth Chamber of Commerce.
“She loved Wilmette,” her daughter Maya Krolikowski said. “For her it was a really welcoming place. … People in Wilmette are warm and great and that’s why she stayed here for 20 or so years. She really loved it and felt at home here.”
Gosia was an artist who received two master’s degrees from the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw, Poland. In 1992, she received a Fullbright scholarship to the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, where she earned another master’s degree (new media).
A mixed-medium artist, Gosia displayed her work in exhibitions across Europe and the United States, including in her own gallery space in the Bucktown neighborhood in Chicago. She collaborated with local artistic communities in Hyde Park and other areas in the city, Krolikowski said.
“She was very passionate about connecting global cultures and Polish-European culture. One of her big missions was connecting cultures,” Krolikowski said. “She was very proud of her work and very passionate.”
European culture remained important to Gosia in her day-to-day-life as well, her daughter said. It is a one of the many reasons she enjoyed living in Wilmette.
“Wilmette, compared to other suburbs, had a European feel with the cobblestone streets and people,” Krolikowski said. “For someone with European heritage, she loved the feel of Wilmette.”
Gosia shifted her professional track to interior design around 2008, opening MEK Design Studio. A lighting expert, Gosia found a niche in retail design for grocery stores, such as Butera Market and Brookhaven Marketplace.
In her free time, Gosia was a guest lecturer at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as a valued community member.
In 2019, she was an organizer for the local Tedx WilmetteWomen, a lecture series based on the global Ted Talks programs that center thought-provoking topics. Program board member Heather Hehman called Gosia a “generous volunteer” who for the event “made a beautiful light installation” that featured Lake Michigan.
“It was a clever and artistic way to add drama to our stage,” Hehman wrote in an email. “And it was a labor of love for her — she spent many creative hours bringing the idea to life. She really wanted to creatively show that this was a Midwest event.”
Gosia is also remembered as a history buff, music fan, philosophy lover, respectful neighbor, and an “incredible” and strong mother, Krolikowski said.
Krolikowski has fond memories of family trips to the Field Museum and Art Institute and lessons of appreciating your roots and all of humanity.
“She was so compassionate … and always very supportive,” Krolikowski said of her mother. “She was always teaching me to be strong, be brave. She was very opinionated and happy to share that opinion … and was not aggressive by any means.”
Margaret “Gosia” Koscielak-Krolikowska was put to rest and welcomed into the catacombs in the Powazki Cemetery in Warsaw, Poland.
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Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319