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Saving art to save history and cultural heritage

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I feel extremely helpless these days as I watch footage of Ukraine under attack. I feel called to make use of my decades-old training to assist the Ukrainians. As an artist I’m wrenched, because throughout history invading armies have sought not only to wreak havoc on human populations and infrastructures, but to snuff out entire cultural heritages. They destroy art and architecture to further demoralize their opponents.

An article in The Washington Post this week describes how the Andrey Sheptytsky National Museum is scrambling to remove all art to basement bunkers. Ihor Kozhan, the museum director, said, “There is an egomaniac in Moscow who doesn’t care about killing children, let alone destroying art. If our history and heritage are to survive, all art must go underground.”

Ukrainian artist Volo Bevza was to open his solo art exhibition February 24th but is now busy welding anti-tank barriers and placing them in strategic areas. Ukrainian muralist Vladimir Manzhos is busy selling NFT versions of his famous works with a London gallery and donating proceeds directly to the Ukrainian Army. Other artists have taken up arms and are fighting in the streets as their homes are being destroyed.

I want to help. Although it doesn’t feel like enough, I will donate to vetted organizations helping on the ground. And I will pray that this horrific insanity will somehow come to a quick end.

Curt Clonts is a Wichita-born artist who volunteers as KMUW's art reviewer. 'An Artist's Perspective' airs on alternate Fridays and can be found at kmuw.org or through podcast platforms. When Curt isn’t working in his College Hill studio he is usually spending time with his wife, kids, and grandkids. He also spends the spring and summer months kayaking and camping. He collects art, has coffee or whiskey with friends, dislikes politicians, and hates his telephone.