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WCEE Exhibition. Guardian Passage: The Power of Ukrainian Cultural Memory in the Face of War

Irina Bondarenko, artist and researcher, University of Michigan; Katya Lisova, artist and lecturer, Mykhailo Boichuk Kyiv State Academy of Decorative Applied Arts and Design
Thursday, November 16, 2023
8:00 AM-5:00 PM
International Institute Gallery, 547 Weiser Hall Weiser Hall Map
Presented in association with UMS.

In Guardian Passage, artists Irina Bondarenko and Katya Lisova employ the tools and imagery of traditional Ukrainian art forms to face down the existential threat brought about by Russia’s war on Ukraine. Bondarenko’s installation forms a causeway for visitors to encounter Ukrainian poetry and the art form of motanka dolls in a newly imagined configuration. Motanka are guardian symbols assembled from the clothes of deceased ancestors. Bondarenko’s ceramics illustrate motanka in situations responding to the war; each graphic is accompanied by a poem or a song. These ceramics act as lifeboats, which ferry the Ukrainian resistance through the flood waters of destruction. Lisova’s series of tapestries explore the power of cultural memory to grow in times of war. Traditional embroidery explodes on the surface of photo collage, where images of the past and present collide on a single surface. Like a lifeline, red thread connects these projects, weaving through clay and fabric, bringing tradition to bear on new significances and the cultural will to survive. This exhibition is part of the LSA theme semester on “Arts and Resistance.”

Irina Bondarenko is an emerging ceramic artist, a native of Ukraine, and a biostatistician at the University of Michigan. Irina has been with the University of Michigan Biostatistics Department for more than 20 years. and published over 50 peer-reviewed articles. Along with her career at the School of Public Health, for the last 10 years Irina has been pursuing her interest in ceramics. Her work was featured in over a dozen national shows, the 24th San Angelo National Ceramic Competition, and the “Strictly Functional Pottery National Show” in 2021 and 2022, and, most recently, the Regional Biennial Juried Sculpture Exhibition at Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum.

Artist website:

Katya Lisova is an artist, designer, and art historian. Born in Kyiv, she is a graduate of the Institute of Decorative and Applied Arts and Design named after Mykhailo Boichuk (2009) and the National Academy of Cultural and Artistic Leaders (2018). Since 2019 she has been teaching at the Kyiv State Academy of Decorative and Applied Arts and Design named after Mykhailo Boichuk. Her work is in the field of artistic textiles and digital graphics. She is also the art director of the “Ukrainian Unofficial” research project, which compiles archives of Ukrainian unofficial art of the second half of the twentieth century.

Artist website:

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact us. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Weiser Hall
Event Type: Exhibition
Tags: European, European Studies, Exhibition, Ukraine
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia, University Musical Society (UMS), International Institute, Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Arts Initiative
Upcoming Dates:

International Institute Programming

The International Institute’s centers sponsor numerous conferences, lectures, exhibits, and cultural performances throughout the year. These events are designed to educate the university community and the public about global issues and inspire discussion and dialogue. 

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