"I have a crisis for you": Women Artists of Ukraine Respond to War

image of watercolor painting depicting 5 nude female-presenting bodies pushing against a tank. text reads "I have a crisis for you: Women Artists of Ukraine Respond to War"
Image: Ukraine Will Resist by Kinder Album (2022)
image of watercolor painting depicting 5 nude female-presenting bodies pushing against a tank. text reads "I have a crisis for you: Women Artists of Ukraine Respond to War"
Image: Ukraine Will Resist by Kinder Album (2022)

An exhibit curated by Grace Mahoney and Jessica Zychowicz

August 25—December 16, 2022

Lane Hall Exhibit Space
204 South State Street

About the exhibit:

In February 2022 the world witnessed the invasion of Ukraine and all-out war of aggression by the Russian Federation. Since this time, massive casualties, human rights violations, and an unprecedented refugee crisis have ensued. Women artists of Ukraine have responded. They paint on found materials in refugee housing, illustrate in bomb shelters, photograph their shelled cities wearing press passes and bullet proof jackets. They document, create, and share. They post their daily journals and images on social media. They perform at the Grammy Awards. They know their message is powerful and the amplification of their voices is critical for victory in a very real battle for survival. 

"I have a crisis for you": Women Artists of Ukraine Respond to War aims to showcase work created by women artists in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. The involved artists are painters, poets, translators, photographers, and graphic designers. Many of the works exhibited demonstrate a continuity of engagement by the artists with the topic of war, especially since 2014 when the people of Ukraine gathered in a “Revolution of Dignity” against attempts by the Russian Federation to control the country’s independence resulting in Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and backing of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s east. The featured artists have also been selected because of their prominent interest and exploration of issues relating to gender in their works.  

We draw the title for this exhibit from a poem of the same name by Lyuba Yakimchuk:

“— our love’s gone missing, I explain to a friend/ it vanished in one of the wars/ we waged in our kitchen/ — change the word ‘war’ to ‘crisis,’ he suggests/ because a crisis is something everyone has from time to time.”

Like in Yakimchuk’s poem, many of these artists approach the war with personal perspectives. They intertwine, juxtapose, and disrupt experiences of war with the intimacies of personal relationships, the workings interior lives, and perceptions of social roles.

The exhibit will primarily consist of artworks sent via digital file that are printed and framed as 2-dimensional visual art pieces. Artworks will be accompanied by artist biographies and curatorial texts. The curators will exhibit a selection of books, journals, and other print media in the two display cases in Lane Hall. These materials will reflect feminist scholarship and literary work that engages the topic of war. These materials will be accompanied by an expanded bibliography of sources.

About the Curators:

Grace Mahoney is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Michigan's Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and IRWG Graduate Fellow for Exhibits. Jessica Zychowicz, (Ph.D. '16) is Director of Fulbright Ukraine and author of Superfluous Women: Art, Feminism, and Revolution in Twenty-First Century Ukraine.


Related Events:

Opening Reception with comments by the curators
4-6pm ET, Thursday, September 15th 2022
Lane Hall

Artists’ Roundtable (Hybrid)
12-2pm ET, Friday, September 16th 2022
Location TBA


Cosponsors:

  • Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies
  • Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • Department of Women's & Gender Studies
  • Museum Studies Program
  • Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia
  • Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies
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