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The art of the Ukrainian Easter egg – OrilliaMatters



Ukrainian Easter eggs are an art form all to themselves. They are an essential part of some Ukrainian religious services but are also made for fun, given as gifts, and even sold online. Tara LaBerge from Swan Hills, Alberta, talked more about these works of art. 

Tara grew up in the Ukrainian community in Winnipeg, Manitoba, active in the Ukrainian Catholic Church and attending one of the city’s Ukrainian schools until she reached junior high. 

The proper name for Ukrainian Easter eggs is pysanka when referring to a single egg, or pysanky for more than one egg. There are many traditional designs and symbols used in decorating pysanky, each with its own meaning. Much of the symbology is religious in nature.

Pysanky are an important part of the traditional Easter celebration in the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Families will pack an Easter basket with everything that they will have for their Easter meal, with decorative pysanky, to be blessed with holy water at their church on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday). The Easter meal will be eaten on Easter Sunday. Pysanky are made with non-edible dyes, and the contents of the egg are sometimes removed during the process, which means that they are not a part of the meal. Krashanky are hard-boiled eggs that have been coloured with edible dyes and can be eaten.

Certain items and tools are necessary to make pysanky. The more common items are a pencil to mark the designs on the egg, a candle to provide heat for the process, and jars to contain the dyes. Then there are the more specialized items, such as the traditional dyes used to colour the egg, the kistka (traditionally a small copper funnel with a wooden handle) to apply beeswax to the egg, and beeswax. These items are available at Ukrainian stores and gift shops and can also be ordered online. Many different types of eggs can be used, including eggs from chickens, ducks, geese, and even emus and ostriches.

Tara started to learn how to make pysanky at home when she was four years old. Young children start out by learning the basics of this process, such as drawing lines and squiggles with a kistka and using the traditional dyes to achieve their desired colours at the end of the process. The children are taught the traditional symbology used in decorating the pysanky along the way. And importantly, they learn how to keep from starting fires with the open flame of the candles. Tara also worked on pysanky at church as a member of the Children of Mary. 

Tara continued to learn about making pysanky every year at school. Students in earlier grades have a fair bit of freedom in how they decorate their pysanky, focusing on refining the basic skills. The lessons became much more structured in grade four, focusing on learning how to make authentic traditional designs. Students at this stage begin by planning their designs on paper and then continue in a step-by-step process as a class until they achieve their desired result.

Tara enjoys being creative with her pysanky, having fun with stepping outside traditional designs at times. She has made pysanky with Halloween themes, movie themes, and other creative designs. Tara has also gifted friends with monogrammed eggs. She enjoys making pysanky, finding it to be a relaxing pastime.

Creating pysanky is an involved process that requires a lot of initial planning to achieve specific results. Much of the planning has to do with the dyes. The eggs are dyed in stages, starting with the lightest colours and then in successively darker colours. The different coloured dyes will act on the dyes from previous steps to create new colours, so achieving a person’s desired end result involves picturing how they want their finished egg to look and then thinking backward through the stages of dyeing to figure out where to begin and which colours to use.

The traditional dyes can make quite a mess, so it is a good idea to lay out newspaper over the intended work surface and make sure that there is a decent supply of paper towels at hand. Paper plates can help provide a place to set the egg down and catch any wayward melted beeswax.

Once a person has a “game plan,” they can lightly draw their design on the egg with a pencil. Any lines or parts of the egg that are intended to stay white (or the egg’s natural colour) must be coated with beeswax to prevent the dyes from colouring that area. It is important to note that any place that beeswax has been applied to will not absorb the dyes properly, even if the beeswax is subsequently removed. 

Beeswax is applied with the kistka. The funnel of the kistka has a wide end and a narrow end. The wide end is for scooping the beeswax, and the narrow end is for applying the wax to the egg. To fill the kistka with beeswax, heat the funnel’s wide end over the candle’s flame and then glide this part of the kistka through the wax. After the kistka has been “loaded” with beeswax, heat the narrow end over the candle flame to melt the beeswax. When the melted beeswax first begins to flow through the kistka, it tends to come out in heavier blobs, so it is a good idea to draw a couple of lines on some of the newspaper until the wax flows in a smoother and more controlled fashion. Once the wax is flowing evenly, it is time to cover any lines or areas that are intended to remain white.

After the beeswax has been applied, lower the egg is into the lightest colour of dye to be used. Leave the egg in the dye for up to 15 minutes. The egg will need to stay in the dye for longer periods to achieve deeper and richer colours. Gently remove the egg when it has reached the desired colour, handling it and drying it off with a paper towel. 

If any parts of the egg are intended to stay this colour, they will need to be coated with beeswax. Then the egg moves on to the next dye. Continue with this process until the egg has been dyed with all of the intended colours, then dry it off thoroughly with a paper towel. 

Now it is time to remove the beeswax. This part of the process has a bit of a learning curve because the egg has to be held over the candle’s flame to melt the beeswax, but it can’t be held too close to the flame, or the egg will get scorched and blacken. Once the beeswax has melted in the heated area, wipe it off with a paper towel. Continue this process until all of the beeswax has been removed.

Congratulations, you now have a pysanka!

– Dean LaBerge is a Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) reporter for the Grizzly Gazette. The LJI program is funded by the Government of Canada.

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Public art, top floor of Kelowna's One Water Street tower revealed – Summerland Review – Summerland Review



Before showing off the top floor of the tallest building in Kelowna, a 27-foot public art display outside of the One Water Street towers was also unveiled on Wednesday (Sept. 22).

The cast aluminum sculpture named “Ursa” — which stands 30 feet above the ground — was created by Toronto-based artist Pierre Poussin. The abstract, ribbon-like sculpture is a bold outline of a grizzly bear, which Poussin said is a homage to Kelowna’s name, kiʔláwnaʔ, an Okanagan word that translates to male grizzly bear.

“The grizzly bear plays a significant role in the creation stories of the Syilx and Okanagan people, symbolizing strength, power and courage,” said Poussin. “In my conceptualization of Ursa, I wanted to create a sculpture that honours, celebrates and symbolizes the majestic beauty and significance of the grizzly bear.”

The $300,000 sculpture consists of five sections, and Possin said it took about five days to create its design. He went back and forth with fabricator Michael Bilyk of Lafontaine Iron Werks for a month to tweak the outline. It took about six months for the sculpture to come to life, with the finishing touches coming earlier this month.

Ursa’s curves, he added, parallel the curves of Lake Okanagan.

“What is your experience when you look at this? Do you see the bear? Did it take you a while to see the bear? Because that was the goal, to take you a little bit of time to see the bear,” he said.

READ MORE: Kelowna’s next tallest building receives hesitant approval from council

Mayor Colin Basran said that public art is a vital part of building a vibrant community.

“Arts and culture is so important — maybe more important than it’s ever been, in light of coming out of this pandemic. Recognizing that we need to be kinder, more understanding of each other and our backgrounds, and really just supporting one another,” said Basran.

“A great way to do that is through arts and culture.”

The view of Kelowna’s waterfront from the 36th floor of One Water Street’s east tower on Sept. 22. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

The view of Kelowna’s waterfront from the 36th floor of One Water Street’s east tower on Sept. 22. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

He commented on the site of the One Water Street east and west towers, saying that the former — which was completed this past summer — has lived up to its expectations.

“I really think that what (North American Development Group) created here is something special. I want to thank you for your investment in our community,” he said. “I think that that investment is again another example of the great things that are happening in our community.”

All but one of the units in the tower have been sold, with the remaining unit being a penthouse worth $12 million located on the building’s 36th floor.

The interior of a penthouse suite located on the 36th floor of One Water Street’s east tower on Sept. 22. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

The interior of a penthouse suite located on the 36th floor of One Water Street’s east tower on Sept. 22. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

The interior of a penthouse suite located on the 36th floor of One Water Street’s east tower on Sept. 22. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

The interior of a penthouse suite located on the 36th floor of One Water Street’s east tower on Sept. 22. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

Henry Bereznicki, the managing partner of North American Development Group, said that event was a proud day for the development team, highlighting that over 500 people call One Water Street home.

“One Water Street is located at the north end of the arts district. We thought the best way to honour the city of Kelowna and its residents was to commission and present this piece of public art to the residents of Kelowna,” said Bereznicki.

READ MORE: At $10M, Okanagan’s most expensive condo is ready to customize


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The art and torture of the empire – Al Jazeera English



Who remembers Abu Ghraib? Why should we remember Abu Ghraib?

Abu Ghraib represents an era of imperial conquest that began in 2003 in Iraq and before that in 2001 in Afghanistan. With its forces now out of Afghanistan, the United States has no reason to remember Abu Ghraib. But the world at the mercy of the whims of this dysfunctional empire does.

Abu Ghraib was a prison complex that took the name of the city near Baghdad where it was built.

For years, Saddam Hussein used it to unlawfully imprison, torture, maim and murder dissidents and political opponents. Then the US took it over to do more of the same.

For people who have been raped, whose bones have been broken and whose souls have been crushed there, it made no difference whether their ordeal was ordered and approved by Saddam Hussein or George W Bush.

But at least Saddam Hussein never pretended to be the duly elected president of a democracy. With George W Bush and his ilk, however, the world had to endure endless denials, and tiresome lectures about “American values”.

‘The United States does not torture’

In 2004, three years into the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, a number of dreadful photographs surfaced that showed members of the US military, security, and intelligence forces physically, mentally, and sexually torturing Iraqi and other inmates not just in Abu Ghraib, but also in Guantanamo Bay and other similar locations in Afghanistan.

These photos the American torturers took of themselves and their victims to send to their friends and families in order to boast of the terror they had been unleashing on Arabs and Muslims soon became iconic – emblematic of an immoral decadence that did not quite sit with the centuries-old propaganda that the US is the “shining city upon the hill”.

Americans were torturing people, maiming and murdering them, forcing them into deranged sexual acts. It was ugly. How could these people do such things?

Soon the global media began spreading these pictures to the point of numbing our senses. Existential questions emerged. The depth of the depravity of the people who did these things to other human beings soon escaped any meaningful registers.

Names such as Specialist Charles Graner, PFC Lynndie England, or Brigadier General Janis Karpinski became synonymous with the horror of Abu Ghraib torture chambers, but names like George W Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld remained respected and honoured in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. Americans soon lost track of these names. Their amnesia eventually led to the election of Donald Trump. Thus, 9/11 became a pathway to 1/6 – the day the US Capitol was invaded and ransacked by the militant white supremacist cult of Trump.

‘The Art of Torture?’

Soon after their publication, a number of artists began to look at these horrid pictures with a different set of eyes, perhaps to enable us to see their horrors better. But did we really need to see those horrors better? Would we not be better off looking at the barbarity of the raw evidence itself?

In a series he called Oh Boy! Oh Boy!, Swiss visual artist Daniele Buetti transformed these photographs into stained-glass mosaics. They looked disturbingly familiar, uncannily beautiful. People who viewed them were put in an odd position: peeping into American torture chambers through a “lovely looking glass”. Were we supposed to be horrified at their beauty or enamoured by their terror?

There was something deeply disturbing about this rush to put an aesthetic turn on torture. I remember my immediate reaction was that was too soon, too early, that these pictures should remain decidedly undecipherable for a while. Artists were in too much of a rush, perhaps out of a basic human instinct of visceral reaction, to decipher them, read them, paint them, interpret them, incorporate them into their own distinct visual vocabularies.

Perhaps the most widely known artistic renditions of the torture chambers of Abu Ghraib were by the Colombian figurative artist and sculptor, Fernando Botero, who in a series of commanding visual renditions of those pictures made their terror look like something people would pay to buy and hang in museums, art galleries, art festivals, crowded Biennales. The frightful facts of what had happened in Abu Ghraib had been registered in a number of crude snapshots sent to friends and family as “souvenirs,” and now widely aestheticised to be consumed by festival curators and art galleries and their customers.

There was something obscene about this whole spectacle. What about the screams of a solitary human being at the mercy of an American torturer? What happened to that cry from the depth of human suffering? In the dark dungeons of what subterranean history did that cry get lost?

Art historians like Helena Guzik began researching the subject of art and torture further back in history and, in learned essays like, Visual Forms, Visceral Themes: Understanding Bodies, Pain, and Torture in Renaissance Art (2014), explored “the implications of Renaissance philosophies surrounding the human body in the context of pain and particularly the physical suffering endured during torture.”

The work of an American artist, Susan Crile, came close to exploring those pictures without rendering them into spaces of faded and fractured abstractions. But still when her work was reviewed in the New York Times, the reviewer coyly said she “hesitate[d] to use the word lyrical”.

Lyrical? Really – depictions of torture?

There remained something deeply familiar about these pictures American torturers took of their Iraqi inmates – they looked like those white racist murderers took of their victims when they lynched them, hanging them from a tree. “Strange Fruit”, the legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday called them in an iconic song. The trees bearing those fruits had been planted in Iraq by the selfsame racist thuggery that had terrorised the South, and which had now gone East.

Art of Resistance

Iraqi artists were of course not sitting idly by in face of the US invasion and destruction of their homeland or the Abu Ghraib atrocities, of which they had memories that went further back from Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to Saddam Hussein himself.

“It is our duty as artists to feel what our countrymen are feeling and suffering,” Qasim Alsabti was quoted as saying in 2004 when he and 24 other Iraqi artists produced a “series of sculptures, paintings, and installations depicting the horrors of Abu Ghraib at the Hewar Art Gallery in the Wazerieh district of central Baghdad.”

More recently, in 2019, the works of a group of artists from the US, Iraq, and Kuwait were curated in a major exhibition at MoMA PS1, for a reflection back on the horrors their people had experienced at a time when, as a review in the New York Times put it, people had no interest in remembering. Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011 was barely noticed by the public at large, despite the fact that there were a few positive reviews of it in major media outlets.

Today you would scarcely find any news item in the US or Europe critically thinking about Abu Ghraib. They have no reason to do so. To the contrary, imperial cultures thrive on their intentional amnesia. History means nothing to empires, except for the delusional mythologies they keep feeding themselves.

There is, therefore, a direct link between the rush to aestheticise and exhibit the horrors of Abu Ghraib and the sudden disappearance of a troubling memory that should have remained indecipherable and troubling for a much longer time. But forgetfulness is precisely how this memoryless empire best survives, by least caring about the trail of terror and destruction it leaves behind as it wages its endless “war on terror”- now its paramount ideology of world domination, at a time when in that very world there is very little left to dominate.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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All Aboriginal art is political: you just need to learn how to read it – The Guardian



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All Aboriginal art is political: you just need to learn how to read it  The Guardian

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