Call for papers


The editors of the journal Річник Руской Бурсы / Rocznik Ruskiej Bursy [Ruska Bursa Yearbook] invite authors to contribute to volume 19 of the yearbook, for the year 2023

Lemko/Rusyn art: its boundaries and functions

The main theme of this year’s edition of Річник Руской Бурсы / Rocznik Ruskiej Bursy will be art: artistic activity and its products which are connected to the cultural space defined as Lemko/Rusyn. This is one of the problematic questions about the scope and essence of the cultural-ethnic reality. What and how does it shape this reality in terms of content, what activities and creations, having a defined/specific form and expression, are described, interpreted, and classified as Lemko/Rusyn? What is taken into account in such ethnic classifications? How do they compare with other, supposedly ‘universal,’ supra-ethnic classifications? How do the various boundaries intersect, within which a given work or artistic fact, the author’s expression, creative direction, or tendency is interpreted? Finally, for what purpose, for what functions, with what effects are ethnic interpretations and classifications of art created? On what basis are such activities carried out? While creative forms whose material is a word, a language, are usually classified according to the ethnic specification of that language, and this is the most obvious way of identifying/defining a work as Lemko/Rusyn, we will not find such a connection in art. Means of artistic expression such as colour, texture, light, line, shape, dynamics of form, etc., cannot be related to the boundary markers of an ethnic community. However, as practised in relation to other cultural subsystems, art and artists are very often presented in the space of ethnic concepts and boundaries. Parallel to such categories as Lemko/Rusyn literature, Lemko/Rusyn music, and Rusyn theatre (not so long ago specified or not completely clarified), the notion of Lemko/Rusyn art is also beginning to function and be defined.

In this issue of the Річник Руской Бурсы / Rocznik Ruskiej Bursy we would like to take a look at, discuss, and thus participate in, these discursive processes that aim to define the category of Lemko/Rusyn art: to show what arguments and qualitative values are used to give ethnic content to artistic plastic forms; and to look at interpretations of various dimensions of artistic activity and its effects as specific to the spirit, mentality, way of seeing the world, and cultural patterns of the Lemko/Rusyn community. And in this way, to address the very notion of Lemko/Rusyn art as a specific resource and heritage regarded as the property of the ethnic group and significantly influencing its collective identity.

We expect that among the texts to be included in the 19th volume of the “Ruska Bursa Yearbook” will be those which will:

  1. concern artistic creations, the ethnic character of which has been defined at the level of ethnographic classifications concerning Lemko folk culture. Therefore, they traditionally, habitually fall into the range of ethnographic, and thus ethnic, boundaries defined by the term Lemko. Lemko wooden sacral and secular architecture, small architecture (chapels, stone crosses), folk stone or wooden sculpture, folk ornaments, and applied arts can become the subject of presentation or cultural interpretation, or of formal discussion of their specificity or borderland character, etc.
  2. have as their subject Eastern Christian art from the area of Lemkovyna/Carpathian Rus’, especially icons and church furnishings. They may include attempts to determine their quality and unique character related to the cultural space of the Carpathians, to folk influences, and to historical facts influencing the specificity of the regional culture of Lemkos/Carpatho-Rusyns. They may be critical of attempts to define such specificity, dealing with the provenance and external centres where icons/ iconostases were commissioned for local churches. They may also refer to current hybrid forms introduced into newly built churches, their origins, and their connection to Eastern Christian art.
  3. be dedicated to individual artists and their work, thus addressing the question of the ethnicity of the artist in question. As is well known, such affiliation is not an indisputable matter, for the reason that the aspect of ethnic self-identification, or sometimes the absence of such a declaration, is superimposed here on the artist’s external attribution to the community on a primordial, ancestral basis. However, there are also artists who unambiguously inscribe themselves biographically in Lemko/Rusynness and what is often connected with it, and thus try to express this belonging by artistic means, introducing, for example, into their paintings, graphics, sculptures etc., elements of the Lemko natural or cultural landscape, symbols, signs, texts, or allusions.
  4. present the author’s perspective on the work and artistic legacy of world-renowned artists such as Epifan Drowniak (Nikifor), Andy Warhol, and Jerzy Nowosielski. They will develop and argue the question of their connection to the Lemko/Rusyn cultural space not only on a biographical basis, but also because of the nature and spiritual dimensions of their creative output.
  5. consider the question of the functional use of the personal symbol of a great, famous compatriot as an ambassador of Lemko/Rusyn culture whom the “larger world” admired, and its potential and foundation for artistic expression. They will respond to all sorts of myths, mystifications, and overinterpretations, but also argue against established stereotypes, centrist classifications, and interpretative appropriations.
  6. pose questions of a general nature relating to the relationship between art and ethnicity. Above all, on the question of boundaries drawn and defined in order to include a given work in, or exclude it from, the Lemko/Rusyn universe. They may define the parameters and determinants of belonging to this universe that are postulated or practised from an ethnic perspective. They may contest accepted or introduced classifications or, on the contrary, support and ground them with arguments.

We expect articles that are interdisciplinary, discussing the title topic in various aspects, conducting in-depth analyses and interpretations, opening up discussions, showing changes or persistence of these assertions or classifications / definitions. We hope that it will be a topic that interests many authors.

Please indicate your intention to participate by providing the topic of the article and a brief abstract by 31 May 2023. Completed articles in Lemko/Rusyn, Polish, or English, prepared according to the editorial guidelines of Річник Руской Бурсы / Rocznik Ruskiej Bursy (, should be sent to by 15 August 2023.

Editor of Річник Руской Бурсы / Rocznik Ruskiej Bursy
Helena Duć-Fajfer