Folk art painters to teach their crafts to wounded warfighters


Three artists will teach their unique folk art techniques to the wounded combat veterans as a rehabilitation tool.  

Today folk art painters will hold master-classes at the Memorial to Holodomor victims in Kyiv teaching their crafts to wounded Ukrainian servicemen who are currently undergoing treatment at the Central military hospital. This time they plan to work with five to seven servicemen, said artists speaking at the press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center (UCMC) in the framework of UCMC’s project “Spokesman of peaceful life” implemented with the support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.

“We chose folk art for the master-classes, because it links us to our ancestors and our roots as well as links the past with the present. Back in the Soviet times it was being eradicated and forced out of us as ‘remnants of bourgeois society’,” said Oleksiy Dolya, director of the Center for folklore and ethnography at the Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University. “Everyone has a need to be creative. A human being is made to create, not to destroy. Each creative moment gives way to goodness and love. What’s hand-made, is vivid and true,” he added.

The inspiration behind the initiative is Ihor Bilevych, woodcarver from Hluhiv and a combat veteran himself who was at the frontline for a year and a half. Ihor has been teaching his craft also at the front and kept doing it upon return.

“We will conduct three master-classes,” says Yuliya Kotsur, first deputy general director of the Memorial to Holodomor victims. Artist Raisa Pavleno and her students will teach the wounded warfighters to produce guardian angels from straw. Artist Natalia Fesenyuk will present the “vytynanka” (paper cutting without scissors) traditional technique.

Icon painter Lev Skop will teach the servicemen to paint angels on wood. He said from his personal experience of communicating with combat veterans, he realized how difficult it is for them after they return from the front. “If we help at least one person to get out of the crisis, we’ve already won,” he noted.

The place and the angels were not chosen occasionally. “These millions of victims are in heaven. While these guys are to some extent our guardian angels here,” Dolya explained.

Craftsmen noted that the master-class is just the beginning. Painting, woodcarving, pottery and blacksmithing will be added to the crafts list. They encouraged artists from Kyiv and across Ukraine to join their initiative. Oleksiy Dolya said that there is a preliminary agreement with the rehabilitation center of the Lviv military hospital.