CLINTON – As an artist, Lesia Sochor pours her feelings into her art.
As the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, when Ukraine was invaded by Russia in February, she poured her feelings into a piece of art.
When the Museum of Russian Icons, in Clinton, talked to Sochor about restaging her exhibit, “Pysanka: Symbol of Renewal,” which features the art of Ukrainian Easter egg painting, she was excited.
And she willingly sent her three-piece series, Babushka, to join the exhibit.
Babushkas are traditional scarves worn by Slavic women. In the paintings, inside the traditional scarves are egg-shaped areas representing the faces,
The first two pieces – Homeland and Peace – were done in 2014 in response to the Maidan Revolution. The third is called Freedom and was done in the last month “in response to this hellish event,” Sochor said from her home in Belfast, Maine.
“Part of me is a little sad that there is this publicity at the expense of the crisis,” she said, but she hopes the spotlight on her exhibit will educate and reach a broader audience “about how unique and separate the Ukrainian culture is. “
Amy Consalvi, the director of interpretation at the museum, said it felt like the right time to rehang “Pysanka:Symbol of Renewal.” The exhibit was on display when the museum reopened after COVID and they still had many of the pieces in storage.
Many of the pieces in the exhibit were part of the original show, but with the addition of the Babushka trio. Consalvi said they set up the exhibit so the Babushka trio could be mirrored in an original trio from the show: One showing Sochor’s mother’s hands holding one of the Ukrainian painted eggs, another with Sochor’s hands, and a third with Sochor’s daughter’s hands.
Sochor was thrilled that the two sets of paintings were paired together, mirroring the sense of Ukrainian family ties.
The centerpiece of the Museum of Russian Icons exhibit is still a large image of an older woman – Sochor’s mother – painting an egg.
“My mother is the matriarch and the protector,” Sochor said, adding she was the reason for the whole exhibit as this part of her Ukrainian culture was passed down.
Her art has been cathartic during the many conflicts that have hit her family’s homeland.
“It is where I have gone every time there has been conflict,” Sochor said. “It gives me a sense of doing something. It is somehow empowering. It give me hope. It accesses the deepest parts of myself.”
As the conflict in Ukraine continues, Sochor is working on another series, this time using ripped jeans to show repair and mending, creating a quilt of hope with images inside the holes of the jeans that includes a map of Ukraine and other relevant images.
The museum recently put up an icon in the lobby as a tribute to Ukraine. The title of the icon is Mother of God Pokrova, 1800s, Ukraine. It is adorned with a rushnyk, a ritual cloth used in Ukrainian ceremonies from birth to death.
Sochor said she is pleased the museum has restaged her exhibit at this time.
“Standing in solidarity with Ukraine is so important,” she said.