There’s a new Calgary effort to help people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
It involves some talented artists, painting a picture of a brighter future.
The First Alliance Church (FAC) is holding an online auction called Artists for Ukraine. It features the work of 32 Calgary artists, among them painter Tatianna O’Donnell who has three pieces in the auction, all of them featuring sunflowers.
“The sunflower has become the national flower of Ukraine and also a symbol of the resilience of the Ukrainian people during the war,” O’Donnell said.
“With everything that’s going on in Ukraine, I just wanted to help anyway I can.”
All of the money raised during the auction will go to a church that the FAC has partnered with in Warsaw, Poland.
“To help with the 180 refugees staying in the church, as well as the other families in the community from Ukraine that have fled,” FAC Pastor Sherrie Ens said.
“They’re trying to figure out food distribution, medical supplies, housing different people as they continue to come into the city.”
The auction features 64 artworks, including three paintings by Fern Buszowski, who also helped organize the event.
“Everybody would get together each week and paint, and we painted and we painted and we painted,” Buszowski said. “We thought we’d have 10 paintings, but we’ve ended up with a lot more.”
O’Donnell has deep roots in Ukraine.
“My parents were born in the 1920s and lived through the Holodomor, which was the manmade famine with Stalin,” O’Donnell said. “They came to Canada after the Second World War.”
O’Donnell is now concerned about members of her family caught up in the current war in Ukraine.
“Cousins, uncles, aunts — I tried to track them down and I was not able to find them,” O’Donnell said “We just feel heartbroken.”
Along with paintings, the FAC’s fundraising auction also features other works.
“We have sewing, quilts, a beautiful hand-dyed egg from another Ukrainian artist,” Buszowski said.
The online auction may tie in well with some people’s plans for Mother’s Day.
“It goes until 1 p.m. on Sunday, and it’s a great opportunity to buy something for mom,” Buszowski said.
“Send your mom something beautiful, with meaning,” Ens said.
Describing one of her paintings, O’Donnell said it symbolizes the strength now being shown by the Ukrainian people.
“The sunflowers are just starting to fade and there’s a darkness in the background, but there’s still always hope,” O’Donnell said. “The sunflower’s going to bloom again.”