The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine, 1932-1933 (Holodomor)
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"Eerie Art Exhibit Exposes Tragedy's Grim Face"
    
By Anna Kozmina

Post Staff Writer
Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine
December 21, 2000, Page 11D


From the 1920s through the 1950s, Ukraine endured some of the most horrific tragedies in the history of mankind.
More than 8 million people died in Ukraine during the forced famines of the 1922 and 1933, twice the amount of causalities suffered by the country during World War II.        Tragedy and Hope of the Nation Exhibition in Kyiv. Over 50 original art posters, 25 black and white graphic and 250 original historic photographs were on display.


Stalin's concentration camps claimed even more Ukrainian lives than that. In another particular gruesome event in 1937, the Stalin regime executed more than 1,000 members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia - artists, writers and scientists - to mark the 20th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.

The tragedies did not end with the death of Stalin. Ukrainians are still suffering from the after effects of the 1986 Chernobyl explosion.
   

For more than half a century, the Soviet government kept these tragedies a secret. It wasn't until after Ukraine declared its independence in 1991 that the public finally learned the truth. Since then, the poignant themes of holodomor-the Great Famine-Soviet repression and Chernobyl have not dominated Ukrainian art.


An exhibit currently being shown at the Teachers' House - "Tragedy and Hope of the Nation Throught the Eyes of Ukrainian Artists" - is the largest display ever of art

"Mother of '33" Monumental painting by Ukrainian Artist Nina Marchenko, Kyiv, Ukraine Oil on Canvus Painting is dedicated to the mothers and their children who suffered and died in the Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet-Ukraine, 1932-1933.

dedicated exclusively to the various tragedies experienced by Ukraine in the last century.


"Now it is the time to show visually what happened, before all the first- and second-generation participants are gone, and because it can now be done without

repression. There are many people who need to see it, to express it, to feel it, in order to bring some relief and expression to the bottled up emotions", exhibit founder and organizer E.Morgan Williams said.

A native of Kansas, Williams comes from a family of farmers and has been heavily involved in agricultural and rural development-related issues over the years. He says that the agricultural industry in countries like Ukraine is an issue that touches him greatly.

"Ukraine is one of the most amazing 'gifted' agricultural regions of the world, but has never reached its potential because of politics and governments," Williams said. "The Russian Czars and later the Soviet Union and its horrible production-driven system ripped off and raped rural Ukraine, and the present political and economic structure in Ukraine continues doing the same thing".

Williams, who is the president of Ukraine Market Reform Group and Ukraine Business Development and Investment Group, says the country deserves better.

"It is easy for rural Ukraine, with its land, villages, folk art, crafts and great people to capture one's interests and one's heart - first out of great sadness, sorrow and disbelief as to what has happened, but also with great joy for what can be in the future", he said.

Williams has spent a great deal of time over the past five years researching Soviet Ukraine's history from the 1920s to the 1970s. From that research, he conceived the idea of an exhibition featuring what he describes as "the art than never was" - art that was never created because it was forbidden or art that was created, but was destroyed.

The "Tragedy and Hope" exhibition grew out of that original concept. It will be shown in 11 different cities around Ukraine in 2001. Plans are to take the exhibition to Europe, the United States and Canada in 2002-03 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Great Famine of 1933.

This eerie exhibit features more than 300 pieces of art, including posters, photos, paintings and postcards from the era often referred to as Ukraine's holocaust. Photos taken in the 1930s feature emaciated children who are too exhausted to move. The paintings depict devastated villages, destroyed churches, communist slogans and death carriages loaded with corpses. Juxtaposed with this horror scenes are the cheerful socialist realism works of the same period, depicting hardy peasants and their plump, rosy-cheeked children clad in Pioneer uniforms.

"What happened in Ukraine must must be shown and remembered, and it must never happen again, anywhere," Williams said.

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