An international friendship between three Cambridge High School alumni has turned into an art exhibition with a single goal: to raise money to send to Ukraine for tourniquets and communication materials.
“We Stand With Ukraine,” which opens with a reception from 6-8 p.m. Friday and features the work of eight regional artists and four Ukrainian artists, will be on display until September 24 at the Overt Space Gallery, 130 E. Main St. , Stoughton.
Part of the proceeds from the sale of the artwork will go towards the purchase of specific items for Ukraine war relief, including eight walkie-talkies, two drones, a monocular or compact telescope and 50 tourniquets.
The exhibit grew out of a longtime friendship between August McGinnity-Wake, a Cambridge native, and Kyrylo Beskorovainyi, from the Ukraine, who came to Wisconsin as a high school student on a college education program. international exchange.
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It was in 2010. Over the years, the two men have evolved but have remained in contact. McGinnity-Wake now lives in Washington, DC, working in social media for Senate Democrats. Beskorovainyi, known to his American friends as Ky, founded and publishes the Ukrainian popular science magazine “Kunsht”.
At the start of the war in Ukraine, McGinnity-Wake helped raise some $10,000 in the United States which his friend in Ukraine used to purchase two ambulances and night-vision goggles. But ultimately, McGinnity-Wake felt he tapped into most of his immediate donor sources.
Then came the idea of an art exhibition to raise more funds. The couple turned to Katherine Simdon, another old friend from Cambridge high school, who opened the Overt Space Gallery last November.
“We kind of pitched this idea to her, and she jumped on it,” McGinnity-Wake said.
Simdon quickly launched an appeal to artists.
Due to the short turnaround, she told the artists she would accept work they had already done on themes of “pride, resilience, hope, war,” Simdon said. “The subject was very broad.
One of the artists featured is Nastia Craig, a Ukrainian-born artist and well-known interior designer from Madison. His abstract works in the Overt exhibition began before the war in Ukraine but evolved after the war started.
“When I started the series, I wanted my art to bring joy, beauty and positive emotions, because that’s what doing art is for me – a way to feel happy and fulfilled. “, explained Craig. “But then the attack happened, and I was watching the Russians take over our land. It was a mesmerizing shock, to be honest. I felt like I was watching the worst event of my life unfold in front of my eyes and I was helpless to do anything.
At first, Craig was glued to the news. But soon “I continued to make art as the one thing that could keep me somewhat busy and purposeful and sane,” she said.
His piece entitled “It started”, for example, marks February 24, the first day of the war. “Mariupol’s Last Flower” is “about a once-beautiful town by the Sea of Azov that was completely wiped out by the Russians within months,” Craig explained. “I hope this tragedy will never be forgotten or forgiven and of course I wanted to pay tribute to this tragic event.”
Other regional artists featured in “We Stand With Ukraine” will include Simdon, Jill Stevens, John Palahs, Kathleen D’Angelo, Ray Zovar, Xizhou Xie and Ukrainian-born Madison artist Tamara Tsurkan. Prints will be offered for sale by several Ukrainian artists who have sent their works as files by e-mail. Direct donations can also be made at www.flexfundraise.com, Beskorovainyi said.
Beskorovainyi will make a video appearance at Friday’s opening. Its popular science magazine, online at kunsht.com.ua, has recently shifted to publishing articles with practical applications for Ukraine, such as how children learn science in times of war. and how to identify “witness trauma”.
Beskorovainyi, who lives in Kyiv but is currently in the western city of Lviv, said he already knows many artists he could ask to send artwork to the Stoughton exhibition.
“Kunsht” often unites science and art, because “art can make science more attractive and accessible,” he wrote in an email. “Since the very beginning of our work, we have collaborated with many top Ukrainian artists and illustrators, many have become our friends and I contacted them. They were very happy to support this fundraising initiative.”
The varied artwork from “We Stand With Ukraine” will also be featured on the overt.space website, McGinnity-Wake said. Forty-five percent of sales will go to war relief efforts, 45% to the artist and 10% to the gallery for overhead, he said.