Updated 12:37 pm EDT, April 17, 2024

Published 06:37 pm EDT, April 3, 2024

The Show Must Go On: Iryna Sushelnytska

By Alfonso de Hoyos-Acosta

Iryna Sushelnytska's art exhibit, "The Show Must Go On," explores emotions, fostering hope and unity amidst global challenges.

By Alfonso de Hoyos-Acosta

Updated 12:37 pm EDT, April 17, 2024

Published 06:37 pm EDT, April 3, 2024

The Ukrainian Cultural Fund of Florida, led by Valentyn Prodaievych now brings Iryna Sushelnytska. Her art reflects a dynamic worldview, blending natural observations with abstract concepts. This upcoming exhibit, “The Show Must Go On,” featuring clowns, now explores hidden depths within emotions.  All in all, Iryna hopes her art fosters hope and reflection amidst global challenges, aiming to promote love and understanding, transcending borders and cultures. 

The Show Must Go On: Iryna Sushelnytska

When: April 11 – 25, 2024

Where: Les Couleurs Art Gallery
223 E Flagler St
Miami, FL 33131

Opening Night: April 11, 2024 at 7 pm EST

In a few parts of the world, there are mountains tapped in the distance with snow. Their curves and crevasses stimulate the imagination of many. Trees sit waiting for spring in other places, with solid, corded trunks patterned like twisted vines. For most of us, the sky overhead can still be seen with the pale winter-washed blue of early spring. And yet.

For others, such as the Ukrainian people? There is war, and for the diaspora, there is angst and an urgent need to ensure their culture is not lost to the abyss of history. The Ukrainian Cultural Fund of Florida (UCCF) is an organization that attempts to conserve the multifaceted aspects of the Ukrainian spirit. It encourages everyone to discover Ukraine’s vibrant culture through art and events.

Iryna Sushelnytska working on her new exhibit "The Show Must Go On"

The UCCF

The UCCF is led by Valentyn Prodaievych, born in the old Soviet Union in Ovidiopol. Valentyn has forged his path as a Ukrainian public figure, politician, lawyer, journalist, and writer. He is profoundly accomplished in multiple disciplines, but Valentyn is especially fond of his authorship of numerous books dedicated to the history of Odesa. He is proud to have made notable historical contributions to several publications, where he investigates the complex history of the legendary city.

Iryna Sushelnytska working on her new exhibit "The Show Must Go On"

Most recently, the UCCF and Valentyn started working with the Ukrainian artist Oksana Mas. Named “Altar of the Feast,” the installation will be set up near the United Nations headquarters in New York City. It will comprise 4,000 hand-painted wooden eggs covered in traditional Ukrainian designs that refer to Easter. An astonishing piece of art, measuring 130 meters per 90 meters. 

Overall, the UCCF aims to enhance Ukrainian culture in the United States. Valentyn stated, “We want the world to know what the Ukrainian culture feels and looks like. We are trying to ensure that Americans do not misunderstand the Ukrainian people or feel opposition to us. As a result, we were determined to show our authentic culture.”

The Show Must Go On

Coming next, though, is a new exhibition in April. Valentyn and the UCCF will present a fantastic new show called “The Show Must Go On” with Ukrainian artist Iryna Sushelnytska. Iryna was born in Odesa and educated at the South Ukrainian National Pedagogical University. She is a remarkable artist, master of multiple mediums, and promoter of visual art. 

There are numerous museums, galleries, and private collections displaying her works across the globe. Iryna has a marvelous and unique vision that looks at our world through a changing background of images. Without a doubt, her aesthetic uses the endless stream of information to present a world immersed in a new, augmented reality.

She told us that the world is in infinite motion and is filled with innumerable endlessly forming streams of symbols. She explained, “The world is infinitely diverse and, at the same time, one. I transform observations of nature and events into abstract models. The result is compositions full of contrasts and energy, which are the essence of my art.” 

Her works are thoughts about the visible and invisible world, feelings experienced, conscious and unconscious, and natural and virtual. Iryna thinks a lot about the individual and their place in society in the era of globalization. As a matter of fact, she believes that it is necessary for people to constantly adapt and live in the conditions imposed by politics, forming unified values and norms.

Youthful Fascination

One fascinating aspect of Iryna’s work is her use of color and textures. She uses bright contrasts to help the observer understand her work’s emotions, energetically connecting the observer and the observed to create a visible dialogue. Iryna remembers her childhood when she was always painting or doing something with her hands.

This youthful fascination interested her in everything about art, and she now works with multiple techniques. She experiments with mediums and considers herself a complete artist comfortable in traditional and digital mediums. She is equally open to using any materials to make various art.

The new exhibit, “The Show Must Go On,” has significant depth and complexity. On the surface, there are twenty-three artworks focusing on clowns. Each artwork represents a distinctive character and emotion. Iryna has never worked with clowns and admitted it was particularly challenging.

Seeds for the Future

Each clown is presented at the front, with hidden depths behind the main character. Looking closely, one can see other characters and images that add depth to the pieces. “The Show Must Go On” highlights the courage needed to face everyday life and extraordinary circumstances. Additionally, Iryna told us that art is a visual language for her, and she hopes that this show is an introduction to the multicultural world of emotions. The artwork demonstrates that we live in a symbiosis of cultural layers. Not everyone understands how many layers a person carries.

The art speaks to the audience about nuance. Everyday life in Ukraine must continue, and the dispersed community must continue and not give up. Both Iryna and Valentyn told me about how difficult the situation in the world is and their belief that the Ukrainian experience is more universal. 

All over our planet, political, cultural, and armed conflicts are destroying many values, including ordinary, simple ways of life. Every person will look at this artwork and reflect on what this means to them personally. Iryna hopes this exhibit will provide hope and encourage people to consider what is happening worldwide. 

Now, both Iryna and Valentyn want people to experience the artwork and think about what it represents. Ultimately, they both wish to encourage people to create a better outcome for today’s problems. With this exhibit, they are planting seeds for the future.

Listen, Learn and Love

Iryna knows that she is inexorably connected to the country of her birth. Still, this project is more global than specific to Ukraine for her. This show contains important philosophical arguments. Iryna and Valentyn focus on passing on an international message since, as Valentyn so beautifully states, “Philosophy has no nationality.” 

Iryna wants her new exhibit to lead to more kindness and love in the world. She stated, “We are all united, and we are all the one.” Valentyn also emphasizes that the fund and exhibit want to be more transparent with the Ukrainian culture and have the world understand its plight more. 

They want to diminish any negative feelings about the country and war. They told me that acceptance leads to love, which is our future. It is a beautiful thought. And just as importantly, to back up their words with action. Part of the funds from this exhibit will go to support children affected by the war. All in all, Iryna and the UCCF present a complex and essential message to all of us. The hope is that we will listen, learn, and love.

The Show Must Go On: Iryna Sushelnytska

When: April 11 – 25, 2024

Where: Les Couleurs Art Gallery
223 E Flagler St
Miami, FL 33131

Opening Night: April 11, 2024 at 7 pm EST

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