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Ukrainian paper artist talks about making art during war as a means of resistance and survival

Eugenia Zoloto is based in Kyiv and initially tried to move away from the city but eventually returned home.

Ukrainian paper artist talks about making art during war as a means of resistance and survival
Image source: Instagram/eugenia_zoloto

Art has always been one of the most important tools in the hands of the oppressed and it will long continue to be. Paper artist Eugenia Zoloto is using art as a means to resist, as Russia continues to wage war against her home country of Ukraine. Zoloto is a Kyiv-based artist and, like millions of others in Ukraine, she was shocked and heartbroken at suddenly having to face the reality of war. Creating cut-paper art was the furthest thing from her mind as she tried to navigate the horrors of Kyiv being shelled, with two children to care for and protect. "For the first few weeks, I couldn’t create any art. All I did was read the news and cry all night," she said in an interview. "I didn't show my kids what was happening and took care of them."



As the war raged on, Zoloto felt she needed to create art as a form of resistance and to tell the stories of the Ukrainian people. "I understood that without beauty and kindness, we can’t survive, so I strived to make more positive art," she said, adding, "My art has saved me during these hard times." After the invasion, she tried to move to a place far away from the explosions. "We initially moved to a village near Kyiv to keep our children from explosions but as the explosions got closer, we decided to return to Kyiv," she said. Zoloto said she had to take calculated risks. "Lots of wars have shown that the capital is safe and secure." She also can't stand the thought of leaving her home country. "When our hearts are here, it is really hard," she said. 



Her fellow artists in Ukraine served as a huge inspiration for her to pick up her blades again. Zoloto said she often finds inspiration in nature, folk arts, dreams and inner worlds. She is now drawing inspiration from the bravery and strength of the people of Ukraine. She usually created life-size cut paper dresses and intricate patterns but she's now creating art about hope and humanity. "Lots of artists in Ukraine started to create art centered around hard themes and beauty. That helped me to understand I create art reflecting the strength and bravery of our people. I had to tell their stories through my art," she said.



Zoloto, like many Ukrainians, has strong ties to Russia. One of her grandmothers lived in Russia and she spent a lot of time there as well. Her grandmothers inducted her into the world of fairy tales, literature, folk songs and embroidery. One of her grandfathers, who is Greek, was passionate about music while her Ukrainian grandpa was a carpenter and made beautiful ornate designs on wood. It's fair to say she's been heavily influenced by her grandparents and her work reflects a bit of all of that. "They all influenced me so much," said Zoloto, but added that she is a self-taught artist.



She was first inspired when she saw a beautiful piece of paper art on the internet. Her strong ties to her land and its people are what inspire her to remain in Ukraine and resist through whatever means possible. Even as thousands write to her, urging her to leave the country, she can hardly fathom it. "I appreciate people who invite me to live with them abroad. I am grateful for all the support people have from other countries," she said. 



It's been more than two months since the invasion, and Ukraine continues to defend itself against the might of the Russian army. "The occupiers still do not want to admit that they are in a dead-end and their so-called 'special operation' has already gone bankrupt," said President Zelenskyy, reported Fox News. "But the moment will surely come when the Ukrainian people will force the invaders to fully recognize reality. Victory is beginning."





You can follow Eugenia Zoloto's work on Instagram and buy her artwork from Etsy.

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