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Don’t Close Your Eyes: Ukrainian Artists Respond to the War
January 17 - February 17
January 17 – Feb 17, 2024
Opening reception Wednesday, January 17, 5-7pm
Curator Tour Saturday, February 10, 12-1pm
Curators: Hanna Melnyczuk and Halyna Andrusenko
Jointly curated by Hanna Melnyczuk, a Ukrainian-American artist, and Halyna Andrusenko, an artist from Kyiv, The Umbrella Arts Center’s iteration of the traveling exhibition, Don’t Close Your Eyes: Ukrainian Artists Respond to the War, features the work of 27 artists from various regions of Ukraine, responding to the invasion of Ukraine, which began February 24, 2022. Expressions of grief, loss, survival, and hope range from surrealism to expressionism, and include drawings, paintings, mixed media, papercuts, lithographs, and a six-minute video, Protected, in which Halyna Andrusenko echoes the wrapping of monuments in Kyiv by wrapping her parents in cloth.
Don’t Close Your Eyes features a broad spectrum of powerful work in response to the war in Ukraine. This work is a testament to the power of the human spirit, and the abilities of artists to synthesize powerful emotions and responses into works that transcend boundaries of time, geography, and space. The Umbrella Arts Center’s exhibition will be the final showing of Don’t Close Your Eyes, which has traveled around Massachusetts including to UMass Lowell and The New Arts Center in Newton and beyond to Madison Arts & Culture Alliance in New Jersey and The Ukrainian Institute of Chicago.
Proceeds from this exhibit will provide support to the exhibiting artists and Ukraine Forward, an organization providing life-saving supplies to the people of Ukraine. To view a PDF catalog of the exhibition, please click here. To inquire about purchasing artwork, please contact Stephanie Marlin-Curiel, Visual Arts Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The exhibition is free and open to the public. Indoor gallery hours are 9AM-9PM daily. The Umbrella is ADA accessible, offers free lot and street parking, and is conveniently located off Route 2 and two blocks from the Fitchburg Line.
A Curator Tour with Hanna Melnyczuk will be held Saturday, February 10, 12-1PM. RSVP to Stephanie Marlin-Curiel at email@example.com
February 24th, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, changed the trajectory of many lives, including my own. My work has dealt with the theme of my Ukrainian heritage throughout my career. After visiting Ukraine and living there for four months, I felt very close to the people and the world my parents left in 1945. Some of my work reflects the influence of this experience. Most recently, I changed course, from working on large portraits to picture books for children. Writing and illustrating my own books was a new phase in my development as an artist. Then on February 24th came news of the war in Ukraine. In absolute disbelief, I, like most of the world, asked: “How can this be happening in the 21st century?” As the war unfolded, the images in my mind changed from being colorful representations of a child’s world to darker images depicting tanks, missiles, refugees, and a mass grave in Bucha. These images continued to appear and to trouble me. I began a series of drawings based on my feelings about the war. Soon I also began to look for like- minded artists and found many in Ukraine responding to the war with powerful imagery. These images were being shown in Ukraine and some parts of Europe. I had a vision of bringing them to the U.S., so I struck up a partnership with Halyna Andrusenko. With her help, we sought artists whose works resonated for us in terms of the images they were making in response to the horrific violence and destruction that the war was bringing to a peaceful country. Many of the artists we chose were producing small drawings, while others were working on larger pieces. We decided, for practical reasons, to focus on bringing some of these smaller works on paper to the US. We are very eager to share these tragic, powerful and documentary images that address the war in Ukraine. Of course, they can be addressing other wars and acts of violence, as does Picasso’s famous Guernica. Some of the works are universal, others more specific. Each artist brings his or her own vision of this tragedy. —Hanna Melnyczuk
My collaboration with Hanna on this project began with her post on my Instagram, complimenting my work, introducing herself, and asking if I’d be interested in helping organize an exhibit of Ukrainian artists’ work. I felt that, in addition to participating in the show, I could now do something more for Ukraine — expand our reach by including recognized Ukrainian artists also focused on Russia’s war against Ukraine. Artists are stepping up on the cultural front, using visual language to convey our lived experience and to show the world Ukraine’s frightening current realities. The foremost goal of this project is to engage the world’s attention and appeal for help and support for Ukraine. I’m grateful to Hanna, the organizing team, and all participating artists for caring and actively working to realize Don’t Close your Eyes. — Halyna Andrusenko