August 23, 2022

"Flowers for Hope": Healing or Harming?


"Flowers for Hope": Healing or Harming?
Sunflowers painted on the wreckage of cars in Irpin, Ukraine. Twitter, NEXTA

Ukrainian and American artists paint sunflowers on burned cars in Irpin in the Kyiv region, where 269 civilians have died Russia's war on Ukraine. This is the first mural of their project "Flowers for Hope," which aims to lift spirits and raise money for local humanitarian efforts.

American painter Trek Kelly gathered several Ukrainian artists to paint murals in areas ravaged by the war, as a way to honor Ukrainians who have died. Elena Yanko, an artist from Netishyn, explained: "We are looking for different locations where the consequences of hostilities are most shown... There we draw sunflowers – the Ukrainian national symbol of the memory of fallen soldiers – in order to salute those people who died... people who carried out the evacuation from Irpin; people who survived those terrible events; people whose cars have been burned." 

In addition to the murals, the artists plan to sell digital images of the work as NFTs (non-fungible tokens) to financially support the community. "The money will be directed to the restoration of the Irpin House of Culture," Kelly said, "to the support of women who survived the occupation and to various humanitarian projects."

Though city authorities are offering locations for future murals, the project remains controversial. The previous owners of one of the cars used in the mural thanked the artists "for repurposing the cars into something more beautiful." However, other locals are offended by efforts to beautify the devastation caused by the war.

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Emma Kaplon

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Emma Kaplon is a student of Russian at the University ff North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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