The original works will go to the top 70 donors to the Canada Ukraine Foundation, a charity raising money for humanitarian aid to victims of the war in Ukraine.
The 70 broken hearts created by visual arts students at All Saints High School in Kanata are symbols of both the crushing war in Ukraine and the students’ determination to reach out and help.
A cardboard heart held together with string is at the centre of each of the multi-media art pieces they created to help raise money for victims of the war.
Seventy students, 70 hearts. Each piece of art follows the same template, but has subtle differences, such as the slogan chosen by the student attached with yellow and blue ribbon mimicking the Ukrainian flag.
“Your Story is the Bravest Thing You’ll Ever Do,” reads the slogan chosen by Grade 10 student Tatyana Jambo, 16.
Students also did research and discussed the war as part of the art project.
Jambo said she could imagine the terror felt by families in Ukraine awaken by missile strikes and air raid sirens.
“They didn’t know what to do. It happened so suddenly. And they were nervous. I just felt really bad because I knew it was going to be hard for them to escape.
“If it was my house and I was living there, and I heard it happen, I would not know what to do. I would start panicking.”
The artwork reflects all those feelings, Jambo said.
“The heart image is a symbol of the compassion and the love and support we have for them.”
Art teacher Carolyn Dyer suggested the project, and students in Grades 9 to 12 participated.
Anyone who donates to the Canada Ukraine Foundation, a charity raising money for humanitarian aid to victims of the war in Ukraine, can register at ash.ocsb.ca. Each of the top 70 donors will receive one of the original pieces of art, while all other donors will receive digital images.
Jude Reid, 16, said the artwork also reflected what students learned about Ukraine. The aged copper toned background, for instance, reflects that country’s long history.
“At least that’s what I got from it. The slightly broken heart being held together with a string? It’s the compassion and how everyone is being held together.”
Throughout history, art has been a way to help people understand the past, Reid added.
“It’s a horrible thing that is happening … So being able to make something that will make people remember this is quite nice.”
It’s also good to know the artwork is part of fund-raising efforts to help Ukrainians now, he said.
“I can’t directly donate because I don’t have a job. Being able to do something, which uses my own skills, to make something that can then bring help to others, is a wonderful thing.”
Amy Park, 16, said she was very conscious that she lived in relative privilege, so it felt good to try to help the Ukrainian people.
“(The project) shows how much we care about them, and how we are trying to bring funds to help the people so that they can escape the war and how they can overcome this trauma in their lives and hopefully they will be better, physically and emotionally…”
The slogan she chose?
“You’re so courageous!”
When Park thinks about the war, she imagines mothers trying to protect their children. “I mostly think about the mothers. And their daughters.”
Katherine Justin, 15, chose this slogan for her artwork: “Hope is the last thing ever lost.”
“I think that, as long as people have the strength and will to endure, things will be better eventually,” she said.
She also found the heart a powerful symbol. “It’s basically just to to show that we all care about what’s happening, even as young people, and it’s to spread compassion and kindness.”
Dyer said the project had been a welcome antidote for kids who have been through two years of COVID-19.
Although students are back at school in person, she notices some are more withdrawn and hesitant to speak out than they were before the pandemic. They’re out of practice because there has been less opportunity for social connections and collaboration, she said.
“I really do feel they’ve been kicked around in this system with COVID. ‘You’re back in school, now you’re back at home, but you can’t do this, you need to wear your mask, you can’t see your friends.’ All of that stuff has really taken its toll.”
The art project has been empowering, Dyer said. “They’re making a difference. They have a voice. They’re connecting. They are part of something bigger than themselves.
“I think it was a great thing. I’m really happy that we did it.”
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