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A black and white portrait photo of Lesya Ukrainka.

April – Week 5 – The End of the Beginning

Technically, April ended yesterday, which means I should be starting a new Daily Hart topic today. But I wasn’t ready to finish my exploration of Ukrainian art. So this past week I watched a short film, marvelled at the physicality of the Zaporizhian dance, and delved deep into the history of Ukrainian literature. In particular, I read the work of Lesya Ukrainka, a fierce feminist, activist, poet, and playwright, who wrote about Ukraine’s right to be independent from Russia over 120 years ago. She wrote her first poem at eight, was first published at 13, and later had to smuggle her works into Kyiv to avoid Russian censorship. She also changed her last name to Ukrainka, which is pretty badass if you ask me.

I also spent this past week reading up on the history of folklore and fairy tales in Ukraine, and how the fundamental differences between Ukrainian and Russian bedtime stories could explain why the current war is going the way that it is. I read fairy tales with hilariously on point titles such as “The Ungrateful Children and the Old Father Who Went to School Again” and “The Vampire and St. Michael”. And as a result, I have decided that Ukrainian fairy tales are awesome.

But more than anything else this week, I made lists. Ukrainian art is far too vast a topic to cover in just one month. Even if I did nothing else but focus on the Daily Hart all day every day, there is no way I could learn everything, read everything, listen to everything, or watch everything in just a month. So I made lists. I made lists of books I want to read, songs I want to listen to, and movies I want to watch. I now have lists of the poets, artists, and singers whose work I want to experience. And I am very well aware of the fact that these lists are nowhere near comprehensive. I can only hope that I’ll be adding to them for years to come.

I chose this topic as a way of reconnecting to my heritage at a time when it was literally under attack. Ukraine is still under attack, but it has also shown the world the bottomless depths of its bravery, courage, and fortitude. This past month, I have also discovered the rich cultural and artistic legacy it has cultivated for generations. I hope this is just the beginning of a lifetime of discovery of Ukrainian art.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!