Lux et Silesia: Silesian Identity in the Art of Ireneusz Walczak

"Lux et Silesia: Silesian Identity in the Art of Ireneusz Walczak" 
Ewa Wylężek, Phd, Department of Humanities, University of Silesia, Poland

Zoom Q&A session with Ewa Wylężek
moderated by Dr. Joseph F. Patrouch, Director, Wirth Institute
(Recorded Live Thursday, October 15, 2020)


Ewa Wylężek is a lecturer at Institute of Literary Studies in the Faculty of Humanities. She studied English Philology with major in Culture and Literature of English-Speaking Countries at University of Silesia as well as at Rovira i Virgili University in Catalonia, Spain.

Her main academic interests are carnival, modernism, art history, and movie studies. What is more, as she was born and raised in Silesia, many of her articles are dedicated to this region, trying to promote her homeland.

In 2019 she was a guest lecturer at University of Eastern Finland. Currently, she teaches Introduction to American Film, Art History and Creative Writing, as well as Writing for the Media. She has recently published her first book titled Tropes of Tauromachy: Representations of Bullfighting in Selected Texts of Anglophone Literature.

She is also a certified brewer (postgraduate course at University of Agriculture, Cracow).

Silesia is a place in southern Poland located in the historic region known as the Upper Silesia (in Polish: Górny Śląsk) that was once one of the world’s greatest producers of coal. This peculiar position of Silesian region, on the one hand, has undoubtedly enriched its inhabitants in cultural and historical ways but, on the other, has enclosed them in a so-called hajmat – a term that is understood as a private homeland. Hajmat is based on both – a tangible stratum such as cuisine or card games, as well as on an abstract stratum, such as language and collective memory. Since people think in the language they speak, one can presume Silesian language expresses highly personalized reality that is inaccessible to non-Silesians, so called gorols. This lecture’s objective is to examine ways in which Silesia communicates with the outside world and how the imagined Silesia may be/is translated into the non-Silesian Poland. In order to do so, I want to present works by one of the most prominent Silesian painters, Ireneusz Walczak. His canvasses, even though beautifully colored, revolve around linguistic signs. He transmogrifies English, Polish, and Silesian into a peculiar, vibrant communique sent from the very heart of the region – a mine.