As the invasion of Russia into Ukraine unfortunately continues, we here at The Saint have been looking to find ways to show our support for the Ukrainian people and offer ways we can extend this support and spread awareness to our readers. This is why I have chosen to do a spotlight piece on a handful of Ukrainian artists that we can support. It’s undeniable that art is a critical component of every culture and nation, and highlighting those at the forefront of the Ukrainian art community is important for showing solidarity to those who have been caught in the middle of a need- less attack on their land. I have chosen three talented creators to spotlight to hopefully cover some of the major grounds of the art world: a photographer, a writer, and a visual artist.
Since the beginning of the invasion of Russia into Ukraine, LA-based Ukrainian photographer Yuliana Chi has vowed to make one artwork a day in support of her native country. Her recent works, which can be seen on her Facebook page, are meant to reflect the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people, with the signature yellow and blue hues of the Ukrainian flag being reflected in some form or another. An incredible visual makeup artist in addition to being a talented portrait photographer, Chi is also the model for many of her works as well, with her more current pieces being symbolic of the current conflict. One of her most powerful pieces she has recently completed shows cracks and chips on her body, but the Ukrainian flag showing beneath the destruction. On her Facebook, Chi says the piece is meant to exhibit that no matter how damaged Ukraine becomes, its people will remain courageous and spirited. Scrolling through her pieces on Face- book, anyone can see how incredible of a creator Yuliana Chi is, and it is even more moving to see how she is producing art in support of her home country during an unthinkably challenging time, even from across the globe. You can access her Facebook by searching up @yulianachiphoto or her Instagram using @yulianachi_photo.
As for writers to look into, I found the story and works of Ukrainian-born poet Ilya Kaminsky to be particularly moving. Born in 1977 in Odessa, Ukraine, Kaminsky grew up in Soviet Ukraine and fled in 1993 to the United States at the age of 16 with his family. Kaminsky, who is partially deaf, reflects his experiences being hard of hearing and growing up in a tumultuous region of the world through his poems. His acclaimed collection of poetry, titled Deaf Republic, centres a lot around his observations amongst a war-torn country in his youth, detailing stories of people fleeing, violence inflicted by soldiers, and his individual frustrations with the political violence he witnessed in his youth. Deaf Republic and other poetry collections are available on Kaminsky’s website, ilyakaminsky.com, but if you are tight on the extra change to purchase his works online, there is an assortment of his poems from Deaf Republic in a New Yorker article featuring the poet.
Lastly, I was drawn to the works of Ukrainian-based visual artist and illustrator, Liliia Kovalyk, who, like Yuliana Chi, has turned to creating many of her recent illustrations in light and support of her country. On Kovalyk’s Instagram page, @lilys_ wonders, which currently has almost 130,000 followers, you will find some of her most recent works depicting girls in traditional Ukrainian clothing, a woman wearing a dress resembling a Ukrainian flag, and the more sombre illustration of a woman holding her baby wrapped in the Ukrainian flag, tears rolling down her face. Kovalyk has been writing in her captions her fears and anxieties that have been mounting in the face of the invasion, but continues to share her illustrations with her followers despite this, because she wants to highlight the beauty of her nation and her people.
Through one quick search on the internet you can find a horde of other gifted Ukrainian artists who are also sharing their passions with the world amidst the crisis in their homeland, and I implore you to take a look at their websites and their social media accounts. Not only is Ukraine home to a multitude of creative geniuses, but also to passionate artists who are using their gifts to spread awareness through various art mediums, and I believe there is no better way to uplift a movement than to include its artists in your acts of support and solidarity.