The Pysanka: Fragile Yet Formidable (Virtual Folk Arts@UHEC)

Artist and ethnographer Sofika Zielyk will discuss the evolution of creating pysanky (Ukrainian Easter Eggs) and how it pertains to the more than 800 pysanky currently on view in the installation “The Pysanka: A Symbol of Hope” curated by the artist.

The tradition of creating pysanky has changed and evolved throughout the centuries. It has been through good times and through bad - wars, serfdom, artificial famine, repressions and occupations - but has endured and flourished. Today, once again in time of war, pysanky can be seen as a metaphor for Ukraine and its people.  Fragile, yet formidable, they are all intent on persevering and overcoming in their existential fight against evil.

Artist and ethnographer Sofika Zielyk will discuss this evolution and how it pertains to the more than 800 pysanky currently on view in the installation “The Pysanka: A Symbol of Hope” curated by the artist.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024
6:30 PM 

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About Sofika Zielyk: 

Artist and ethnographer Sofika Zielyk, a native New Yorker, holds a degree in Art History from New York University.

She started making pysanky and ceramics when she was six, having learned the basics of these traditional Ukrainian art forms from her mother.  What began as a hobby has developed into a professional pursuit. 

Sofika has exhibited her work extensively,  most notably at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Arts and Design, the office of the Security Council at the United Nations in New York, the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, D.C., America House, a component of the US Embassy in Kyiv, as well as venues in Paris and Rome. Her pysanky are in the permanent collection of the Ukrainian Museum in New York, the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, D.C., America House in Kyiv and the Pysanka Museum in  Kolomyja, Ukraine. Interviews with Sofika have been published in New York Newsday, The World and I, The New York Daily News and Crain’s New York Business.

In 1992 Sofika was the first American of Ukrainian descent to exhibit her work in her ancestral homeland (Taras Shevchenko Museum, Kaniv, Taras Shevchenko Museum, Kyiv.) She has also been accepted as a full-fledged member of the prestigious Association of Folk Artists of Ukraine. Photographs of Sofika’s work have been prominently featured in the book “Festivals of the World: Ukraine” published by Times Editions, in a coffee-table book entitled “Decorative Eggs“ published by Crescent Books as well as in  “Malevich” by Rodovid Press.

In early 1993, a bilingual book on “The Art of the Pysanka” by Sofika was published in Ukraine.  It contains 100 color photographs of her eggs as well as sections on the lore of Ukrainian Easter eggs and step-by-step instructions. 

In 2014-2015 Sofika received a Fulbright Scholar grant and spent 8 months in Kyiv, Ukraine researching  “Folk art as inspiration and muse for early 20th century artists of Ukraine”.   

When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Sofika quickly engaged in cultural diplomacy, using her artistic talent and ethnographic expertise to support Ukraine.  She has been interviewed by CNN, Time Magazine, The Washington Post, and several local New York City TV stations.  She has also  been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered”.

Folk Arts@UHEC Virtual Programming is free - Donations are gratefully accepted


March 5th, 2024 from  6:30 PM to  8:30 PM