Ukraine: Ukrainian Children Create Art on Display in Chicago – New York Times International Weekly – International

CHICAGO — On the walls of a museum of modern art in Ukrainian Village, a neighborhood and cultural hotspot here, hangs a drawing of the Fall of Mariupol, one of the bloodiest battles of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Against a bright orange sky, smoke billows from dilapidated buildings as Russian planes fly overhead.

The artist? A 9-year-old boy named Roman.

In the same gallery hangs a painting of a blue-green tank by 7-year-old Ilya. Below him, an armed Ukrainian soldier that 10-year-old Taras drew with oil pastels, stands guard against a star-filled sky.

The works are part of an exhibition of the children of Ukraine, many of them displaced by the war and invited to paint in hospitalsorphanages and art workshops in Lviv, a city in the west of the country that has served as their refuge.

Among the pieces packed into two suitcases and shipped to Chicago were finger paintings by young children and intricate drawings by teenage art students. They now fill a gallery at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, which was founded in 1971 and has a permanent collection with works by Alexander Archipenko, Jules Olitski and Patrick Caulfield.

An exhibition on abstraction concluded last month and works by artists including Roman, Ilya and Taras were installed.

The works began to be created in the first days of the warthrough art classes taught by Nataliia Pavliuk, 45, an artist who teaches painting at the Lviv National Polytechnic University, and her daughter, Yustyna Pavliuk, 21, a student there.

“We started to think about what we can do to help Ukraine win,” Nataliia Pavliuk said in Ukrainian, with her daughter interpreting. “A lot of people need care and art therapy, and we know we’re good at it.”

The Pavliuks have visited hospitals, orphanages and modular houses erected for displaced families, with a supply of paints, pastels and paper. Many children chose to portray images of war — tanks, soldiers, planes — but those who had experienced the most severe trauma tended to focus on less grim images, they said.

At a children’s hospital in Lviv, an 8-year-old girl from eastern Ukraine named Mariia drew an orange-striped cat sitting on top of the kitchen table, Yustyna Pavliuk recalled. When Mariia was asked if she had siblings, she said her sister was killed when a bus she was traveling on from kyiv, the capital, came under fire.

In a free class at an art gallery in Lviv, a 10-year-old girl named Veronika painted herself in a pink and orange dress, standing next to a friend, the Pavliuks said. Behind the figures, Veronika painted a house that she imagined could house all of her friends who had died in the war. She had lost a finger and sight in one eye during Russian shelling, they said. Her family died.

“It’s hard not to start crying when you work with them,” said Yustyna Pavliuk, “but they live on.”

The Pavliuks wrote about their work on Facebook, drawing the attention of Marta Farion, a museum board member and a distant relative of the family. She helped them obtain a grant and organize a trip to the United States, where they are also exhibiting children’s works in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and an arts academy in Arkansas.

Many of the works in the Chicago exhibit, titled “Children of War,” are for sale with proceeds going to continue their work in Ukraine, the Pavlyuks said. It will be open until February 12.

“For some, it’s just ‘scribbles,’” Nataliia Pavliuk wrote in Ukrainian on Facebook. “For us, these are the most sincere and fine works of art.”

Christina Wyshnytzky, the museum’s assistant curator, commented on the “van Goghesco” style of the still life with sunflowers of a child — Ukraine’s national flower and a symbol of solidarity with the country.

“They’re elevated because they’re in a museum setting, and I feel like it’s not worth talking about art in any other way,” he said.

“You see abstract works like this selling at Sotheby’s for millions of dollars,” he added.

By: Julia Jacobs

BBC-NEWS-SRC:, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-01-10 19:40:07

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