Life in wartime, as seen by Ukrainian women, in the exhibition ECSU – Hartford Courant

In Zhdanivka, a town in Ukraine’s Donbass region where Russian aggression began in 2014, the only place a cellphone could be picked up was the town cemetery. So Alevtina Kakhidze’s mother, who lived in the city, went there every day to call her daughter to tell her that she was alive.

Until the day she was gone. Alevtina Kakhidze’s mother suffered a fatal heart attack in 2019 while waiting at a demarcation line checkpoint, which she had to cross to collect her pension check.

Kakhidze created a series of drawings to tell the story of his mother. These drawings are part of “Women At War,” which will be on display at Eastern Connecticut State University through October 15.

Since February 24, 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the world has focused on the plight of soldiers and refugees leaving the war-torn country. Rather, the ECSU exhibit shines a light on those left behind, seen through the eyes of women, whose experiences of war are different from those of combatants on the front lines.

Curator Monika Fabijanska said her interest in the exhibit came from the “silence I hear every time I look back and look at history.

“Even when there are female characters…the perspective is usually male. And I was just interested in what would happen if we talked about war with women,” Fabijanska said. special things that happen to them.

“The works in this exhibition are not necessarily about the destiny of women. They focus on the vision of war beyond troops, battles and the concept of victory and the vanquished. They really look at the lives of ordinary people who are left behind.

Fabijanska originally curated the exhibition when she was at the Fridman Gallery in New York this summer. The Fridman presented the exhibition in collaboration with Voloshyn Gallery in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Fabijanska said about half of the works were created between 2014 and 2022, and the rest after this year’s invasion. Almost all of the artists became refugees during the curation of the exhibition.

Lesia Khomenko, who attended the opening reception, is one of those refugees. She said that in her travels, art has helped her maintain her emotional balance.

“After the invasion, I fled Kyiv. In six months, I moved 20 times. Every place I organized myself a studio,” she said. “I distanced myself from the problem. It helped me survive as a human being.

Khomenko shows four large-scale portraits of soldiers. One is her husband, who is in the army. The others are semi-abstract works that mask the faces of the soldiers with white spots or with pixelations, to comment on the Internet’s disinformation on the war.

Kakhidze’s drawings of his mother are childlike in their simplicity but tell powerful stories of wartime displacement. Its captions read “Zhdanivka has had checkpoints for two days now. … Travel within the city or to a nearby town is by passport only. The banks are closed. “It took me 11 hours to cover a distance that I covered before the war in 1.5 hours.” “So Zhdanivka was under fire. I am alive. A person died on our street, a woman.

Yevgenia Belorusets offers a series of photographs taken in the Donbass, where coal miners fought off the takeover of the mines by the military. Her photography, she says in her statement, “depicts a form of resistance to the occupation, which was politically invisible as it took place in workplaces striving to avoid any form of publicity.”

Alena Grom’s photo “Tamara with her brother, Mariinka, Donbass,” is equally dark, a haunting image of small children in a dark cellar.

A series of drawings by Dana Kavelina are rendered in pencil, with streaks of red accents, made of blood: mouths, stained hands, stained clothes.

The terrors of the past appear in a work by Alla Horska, who was assassinated in 1970 at the age of 41, presumably by the KGB. Her 1963 linocut depicts Ivan Svitlychny, who like her was a dissident artist.

Olia Fedorova, writing on sheets in red ink, expresses her fury at the Russian invasion of her hometown of Kharkiv: “May you choke on my soil, May you poison yourself with my air, May you drown in my waters, May you burn in my sunlight, May you stay restless all day and all night, And may you be afraid every second.

Other performing artists are Oksana Chepelyk, Vlada Ralko, Kateryna Yermolaeva, Zhanna Kadyrova and Anna Scherbyna.

The ECSU stop is the exhibition’s first traveling exhibition since exhibiting at the Fridman Gallery in New York. Gallery owner Ilya Fridman, who attended the opening reception on Thursday, said he hoped the exhibit would travel across the country.

“Oppressed people everywhere are denied the opportunity to record their own history, the visual and textual record of their own times. [The exhibit] will survive as proof that Ukrainians define their own culture,” Fridman said. “This war is aimed in a very real way at erasing Ukrainian culture as an independent national identity. Exposure is resistance.

Five things you need to know

Five things you need to know


We provide the latest coronavirus coverage in Connecticut every weekday morning.

The art gallery is located at the Fine Arts Education Center on the ECSU campus at 83 Windham St. in Willimantic. It is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from noon to 4 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ukrainian arts and culture, as well as aid to Ukraine, are the focus of other events in the state.

‘Volya: Free Will’, an exhibition of Ukrainian women’s art, is at Southington Community Cultural Arts, 93 Main St. The exhibition of paintings and crafts made in Ukraine by women who fled their country will be on view until to October 10. Proceeds from sales will go directly to the artists.

Ukrainian world music quartet DakhaBrakha will perform at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, 2132 Hillside Road at UConn in Storrs, October 9 at 3 p.m. Admission ranges from $15 to $36.

“Songs for Ukraine,” organized by the Eastern Connecticut Center for History, Art and Performance, will take place September 24 from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Packing House at 156 River Road in Willington. Admission is $30 in advance, $35 at the door. All proceeds from ticket and merchandise sales, donations, sponsorships and raffles benefit Direct Relief.

Stackpole Moore Tryon of Morneault, the drapers at 242 Trumbull Street in Hartford, sells Ukraine-themed t-shirts designed by Hartford artists Ellis Echevarria, Amy LaBossiere and Tao LaBossiere, with 100% of the proceeds going to to World Central Kitchen, which works to feed Ukrainian refugees. Each shirt is $25.

Susan Dunne can be contacted at [email protected].

Comments are closed.