*Please note: This article is a student blog written by a Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassador. The Ambassador Program is a unique opportunity for Saint Anselm College students of any major to be involved in supporting the Institute's various events and activities. To learn more about our student ambassadors please visit the NHIOP website.

On May 1, 2023, the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College was proud to host “Our Fire is Stronger Than Your Bombs,” an art exhibit showcasing the work of illustrators in Ukraine depicting their experience during the ongoing Russian invasion.

Panelists at the 'Our Fire is Stronger Than Your Bombs' event

Lada Kolomiyers, Veronika Yadukha, and Hanna Leliv, scholars and translators from Dartmouth College, walked the audience through the stories of the artwork and its significance. 

Leliv provided context for some of the works that hung all around the auditorium. A series of two illustrations featured Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. One showed him on a horse with the words “if it was Putin’s war,” and the other showed him on the ground with the words, “it would end fast.” She explained how these posters were originally pasted on windows using scotch tape, which represents how people in Ukraine taped windows to protect from firearms. The illustrations from the exhibit are available to view online through https://exhibits.library.dartmouth.edu/s/ukraine/page/homehttps://exhibits.library.dartmouth.edu/s/ukraine/page/homehttps://exhibits.library.dartmouth.edu/s/ukraine/page/home 

Two artists featured in this exhibit, Jenya Polosina and Anna Ivanenko, joined the conversation via Zoom all the way from Ukraine. “We began to document through small comics from the first day… Illustrations and drawings became a coping mechanism,” said Polosina. Both were artists who often explored different subjects and styles, but the invasion quickly became their new focus. “I used to like abstract art but that is not going to happen until the victory,” said Ivanenko.
Ukrainian illustrators have come together to use their skills for two purposes. For the people in Ukraine, Polosina explained how they try “to cheer people and reflect on things that can help get people through.” For those outside of Ukraine, she hopes that the artwork can be informative and touch hearts. “We are showing that they are real people and artists, it becomes more personal,” she said.

Panelists at the 'Our Fire is Stronger Than Your Bombs' event

Also included in this event were readings of poetry with musical accompaniment by the College’s Dana Center Director Joe Deleault and Don Davis. The poems were written by five contemporary poets in Ukraine, comprised of three female authors and two men currently serving in the Ukrainian army. The powerful words read along with the instrumentals created an emotional depiction of the suffering and turmoil in Ukraine. 

The event was hosted in collaboration with the Leslie Center for the Humanities at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire Humanities, and the Gregory J. Grappone ’04 Humanities Institute. Gary Bouchard, Executive Director of the Grappone Institute, shared how this event had been in the works since October 2022. After a series of delays, Bouchard was thrilled to see the event come to fruition. 

As mentioned, the event eventually took place on May 1, which marked the eighth anniversary of Greg Grappone’s passing. Bouchard explained how this event was aligned with Grappone's core values. “He believed discourse, art, and humanities are stronger than any violence,” said Bouchard.

Media links: