I frequently draw parallels between the depressed economic situation in Detroit and Ukraine where a third of the population lives below the poverty line. I grew up in Detroit and have only visited Ukraine on three occasions. Yet, its culture is in my DNA. I believe that art holds hope for Ukraine the same way I believe it holds hope for Detroit’s future.
I’m unable to travel to Ukraine at this time, but a friend and I recently visited the current exhibit at the Ukrainian American Archives & Museum of Detroit. “Silk and Light,” features a collection of textiles; silk painting, and tapestry, as well as several oil paintings all by artist Tetyana Koval-Vyshkivskyy.
It’s interesting to view contemporary Ukrainian art in this a setting that is dedicated to preserve artistic and historical artifacts. Embroidery holds an important place in Ukrainian history. It has ancient roots steeped in symbolism and mythology. It is wonderful to see this artist create art work drawn from this rich tradition.
Also included in this exhibit are several oil paintings. My favorites are the two depicting a couple; “What not to say” and “The kiss.”
The 33-year-old artist was born in Chernivstsi, Ukraine and studied at the Lviv Academy of Arts. While I love her contemporary homage to classic traditions I was fascinated to find Ukraine in the news for some less traditional art. This May 2012 the facade of the National Art Museum in Kiev was wrapped with what appears to be a giant gold snake. This may not be shocking in other countries, but for Ukraine this was a first. Allowing an installation like this to be displayed on a historic building is typically prohibited. I also discovered that May 25th, the first biennale of modern art opened at the Arsenale in Kiev, Ukraine.
The conversation of the journalist and a Ukrainian quoted in the The Telegraph typifies why I believe that where there is art there is hope. “In this country the government does not let us do whatever we want, but that can be a good thing.” Why? I asked. “Because if you are allowed to do whatever you want you just do it. You never have to use wit and invention to work around it.”