I have watched my family’s home, birth country and lives lost over the last 92 days with the gruesome and horrific scenes live streamed 24/7. It is heartbreaking and I struggle to find words to describe this feeling. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has also taken majestic works of art and ground them to a pulp with mortars and rockets.
At first, I found it odd that the satellite photos of decimated towns that once boasted such colorful and amazing architecture and celebrated the arts affected me so deeply.
It was even more confusing as I’ve never been to Ukraine- my father was born there, and my grandparents introduced us to everything Ukrainian from the astounding art of Pysanky to stuffed cabbage and “second Easter” (Orthodox Easter).
This confusion and pain I was feeling led me down through a stream of consciousness that opened my eyes even further to how deeply the arts affect, influence and represent our different cultures. I have never seen it in person with my own eyes but when I close them, I can still see the glimmer of the Golden Domes of Kyiv, the bright primary colors that painted every other house in the capital city of Ukraine. These images, this beautiful architecture, Centuries old, has defined Ukrainian life for just as long. Statues, paintings, buildings, and town squares have all been destroyed along with the homes and lives of Ukrainians.
This agony I feel looking at pictures of what was once Mariupol, is testament to how very vital art is to our cultures. It is woven into the very fabric of who we are as Americans or Europeans or Swedes, etc, it is the language that transcends the barriers of this greatly divided global community.