About 50 visual art pieces — capturing moments of beautiful places in Ukraine during 2014 before the Russia-Ukraine war and spanning to this year’s invasion — will be displayed and available for sale this weekend during an exhibit and benefit event named “Sunflower on Fire.”
There are works centered on humanity, with photos of people helping others during evacuation and people hosting displaced refugees in their homes, said Seattle-based interdisciplinary artist O.
Some of the other photos in the exhibit are gruesome, showing raw documentary work of violence and injuries.
“It’s very visceral,” O said. “It’s the reality of war.”
And during the event, a climate-justice soundscape called “Nuclear Recitals” will play, featuring Lubomyr Melnyk, who is known for extremely fast piano playing with long-lasting notes.
O, who goes by her artist name because she says projects like these put her safety at risk, is the founder of TYPONEXUS, which is the international and interdisciplinary art collective presenting “Sunflower on Fire.” O’s family was part of a persecution of Ukrainian intelligentsia; they fled and arrived in the U.S. as refugees during 1996, she said. She has not been in Ukraine since, but she remains strong in her ethnic identity.
In 2014, O reached out to Ukraine-based photojournalists for a different exhibit and has connected with several other photojournalists and artists since then. About 30 photojournalists and artists donated their work to the event, and have been overwhelmingly supportive, O said.
“It’s their mission to document the truth,” she said. “I’m just doing my humble part.”
Some work for sale includes photos by Maks Levin, a Ukrainian photographer who went missing in March before reportedly being shot by the Russian military, according to The New York Times, citing the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general.
The photos and visual art pieces are available for $30-$120, depending on size. All art proceeds will be donated to The Sunflower Project, a nonprofit providing emergency relief aid to the people of Ukraine. It was started in Seattle by Kevin Raison and Rick Wilson but is now based in Poland and Ukraine.
While the last two hours of the exhibit are free to view each day of the weekend (with reservations), a tour and workshops require add-on fees that help fund this and future events. The tour begins at The Grocery Studios on North Beacon Hill and continues across the street at Fresh Mochi art space. There will be two workshops in which participants can learn pysanky (egg writing) or how to play the bandura, a Ukrainian instrument.
The mission behind the event and shared friendship are the reasons Janet Galore and their partner Demi Raven opened their home and studio, The Grocery Studios.
“We want to identify people who are trying to do something risky, or a little untraditional, or maybe [they’re] coming from a community where they’re not able to access resources as readily,” Galore said. “We want to support them within our capacity.”
Any art that is not sold during the event will be displayed and available for sale in August at Fresh Mochi. O said she plans to continue raising money for Ukrainian relief efforts.