This exhibition brings together a group of international artists, many of them Ukrainian or of Ukrainian background, working in a variety of media. Their diverse styles and projects are linked by shared interest in exploring how familiar objects and images can be seen fresh anew, while distant and strange ones de-exoticized. What has been a source of comfort can become disturbing, but a newfound beauty can also be revealed, stemming from the ordinary and the mundane. In other words, these artworks explore transformations, with ideas, memories, and dreams morphing into fascinating new opportunities to engage in liberating, thoughtful conversations. 

Mykola Zhuravel and Daria Tischenko-Zhuravel explore enduring ideas and images and the symbolic messages behind them. Zhuravel’s flag paintings continue in the venerable tradition of Jasper Johns, engaging with the American flag and the hope and promise it stands for, in a lucid, calm meditation. By contrast, his “Bearish Wedding” works with the traumatic experience of his native Ukraine in recent years, in the face of an undeclared “hybrid” war with its powerful neighbor Russia and the exhausting uneasiness of continuing with one’s daily life under the cold gaze of the aggressor. His partner Daria, in turn, links the earthly and the heavenly, the organic and the technological in her work. The London-based Italian artist D13EGO initiates dialogue with Ukraine and its geopolitical predicament through his inspiring painting of a street muralist overpainting the 200 ruble note, on which Russian government brazenly placed images of annexed Crimea, with that of the 200 hryvnia note, featuring Lesya Ukrainka, Ukraine’s greatest woman author, a symbol of perseverance and hope in the face of challenges. Lena Howansky works with the pop art aesthetics, undercutting it with surprising raw emotionality. Ola Rondiak’s sculpture takes one of Ukraine’s ancient cultural traditions, the motanka ritual doll, and radically modernizes it, changing its shape and dimension but retaining the primeval essence. Similarly, Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern tackles topics both sacred and profane with a bold reinterpretation, taking the traditional limited choice of colors associated with traditional embroidery and simultaneously building on the aesthetics of traditional puppet theater. The images in Valeriy Skypka’s paintings are delicate and fragile; their calming meditative effect contrasting with Petrovsky-Shtern’s exuberance. Last but not least, Ralph C. Roe’s sculpture invites us to find possibilities for transformation in the most mundane objects around us. We hope that engaging with these works of art inspires you on a transformative journey of your own.

Curated by Professor Vitaly Chernetsky, president of the Zorya Foundation and Director of the Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies at the University of Kansas, an expert on Ukraine and globalization and Peter J. Tesei, First Selectman, Town of Greenwich, Connecticut, founder of the First Selectman’s Economic Advisory Committee.