Artist, Edgar Degas, once said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
Art can bring forth awareness and unity. With the recent war developments in Ukraine, the world has watched the news and images in horror. Artists have begun coming together to support those in need. Seeing communities join together to support a cause is inspiring, especially when using a powerful tool like artwork, which easily crosses language and culture barriers.
Artists are working together to help raise funds and awareness of the conflict in Ukraine. It’s empowering to be a part of a community locally, and as an artist myself, that is able to help those in need. We have gathered some individuals and organizations in the art community making a difference to support Ukraine during these tumultuous times.
When Jack Trodd, curator, and founder of Brushes with Greatness (London, UK) asked if I would be interested in contributing artwork to such a fundraiser I was happy to feel as if I was helping, even in a small way, as a local Ann Arbor artist. He and Leo Sartain, director of The Rafiki Gallery (Edinburgh, UK), approached various artists they knew, and Mr. Sartain hosted the fundraiser on his gallery’s website. Mr. Sartain had previously seen the positive impact such a fundraiser can have after organizing one during the Covid pandemic. He states “It has been wonderful to see how many people responded positively, donating beautiful pieces. It has become clear that people are desperate to try and make a difference themselves. The artistic communities we are each involved with have been incredibly generous and it’s a fantastic thing to be a part of.”
He says that the response and publicity have been so positive that this project may develop into something larger in scale. Both he and Mr. Trodd are grateful for the contributing artists and the collectors who have purchased work so far. The Red Cross effort in Ukraine will receive 100% of the proceeds of the sales and there are still several affordable works of art available to buy here.
Among organizations making a difference, also take note of Far x Wide. It was founded by NYC based artist and educator Jessica Cannon. The platform, which hosts fundraisers about 4 times a year, began in 2017. Ms. Cannon wanted to host an art sale, to benefit those impacted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, but didn’t have a gallery to collaborate with at the time. Instead, by combining her desire to help with her web and graphic design experience, she decided to create a website that would offer artwork for sale. Ms. Cannon states “As soon as the first project started coming together, I began thinking that Far x Wide could evolve into a series of projects, with different organizations benefiting each time.”
Far x Wide’s current fundraiser will benefit Razom, which means “together” in Ukranian. According to their website, The Razom organization provides “critical humanitarian war relief and recovery” in Ukraine after the violent Russian invasion.
Saddened by the escalation of the war Jes Cannon reached out to artists she had already worked with for art contributions towards the fundraiser. She notes “… for this and other Far x Wide projects, I’m always moved by the generosity of the artists that have contributed their work and offered support or encouragement in countless other ways. Far x Wide would not exist without them.”
Amy Sacksteder, who is a local visual artist and Art Professor at Eastern Michigan University, is one of the many artists who contributed work to the Far x Wide benefit. She states “I was honored to be asked to participate in the Project for Ukraine fundraiser. …Jes has initiated a fantastic vehicle for positive change in the world, channeling artmaking and collecting into social and environmental action.” Ms. Sacksteder’s three pieces (painted gouache works on shaped paper) are among some of the works available to purchase.
Another artist from our area whose work is included in the fundraiser is Toledo based artist, educator, and curator, Jordan Buschur. She notes “Creative expression has been such a necessary part of my wellbeing throughout my life. I want to harness that energy and turn it into a way to help others. I’m thankful that Far x Wide puts together such careful and considered fundraisers for important causes.” Ms. Buschur has two works available (both painted gouache on paper). These two artist’s pieces and many other wonderful works are available for sale through the fundraiser website: Far x Wide (running through 4/26).
Visual artist Laila Kujala , who is based in Milan, MI, is holding a private fundraiser which also benefits Razom’s relief efforts in the war-torn country. Her event, titled “A Fundraiser for Ukraine,” will be held on Friday April 8th, at her studio, (11am-7pm, at Laila Kujala Studio, 3E Main Street, Suite 7, Milan 48160), and will feature everything from small items, such as cards and jewelry, to larger items, such as prints and paintings.
When asked about the event, she says “I wanted to do something to help Ukraine. I grew up in Finland and all what is going on in Europe is very disheartening and scary to me. I also have Ukrainian friends which makes this all the even more painful. I…have quite a few sunflower related art works and my first thought was to donate 50% of all my sunflower art to a Ukrainian charity. However, as I was working on my project I decided to have a fundraiser and to donate 50% of all the proceeds to charity including any of my artwork that was sold during the event.”
U.S based artist and curator MePaintsMe, who has gained a very large Instagram following, as well as has developed a distinct and recognised curatorial style, is holding an open call for art work, whose proceeds will benefit Ukraine. This platform strives to present a legitimate space for virtual curations and fosters the evolution of online art viewing, sharing, and acquisition. According to the website “MePaintsMe is an online contemporary art gallery presenting thematic group exhibitions that feature emerging, mid-career, and established international artists.” For this upcoming call for art, 100% of the profits from the submission fees will be donated to Ukrainian Relief Organizations. The funds will support World Central Kitchen and Global Giving. Artists can apply to the open call for art at MePaintsMe here (April 15th deadline).
Coming together as a local community, artist community, and as a world community in support of each other unifies us as humans. Art is a conduit and I encourage you to support these organizations that are providing aid for Ukraine and its people.