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KCAI student uses art to process attack on Ukraine

Artwork on display at school’s annual exhibition
mariya slipych.jpg
Posted at 5:00 AM, May 10, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A student at Kansas City Art Institute is using art to process the war in Ukraine.

Mariya Slipych was born in Ukraine. When she was 11, she settled permanently in the United States.

“As just a little kid, I experienced Ukraine. I spent a lot of time in school, and I loved school,” Slipych said. “I spent a lot of time at a Ukrainian school desk, and that’s how I learned about Ukrainian culture and how to be Ukrainian.”

She’s now a senior at KCAI and is set to graduate Saturday with a bachelor's in fine arts, specifically in sculpture.

As part of the art institute's end-of-year exhibit showcasing work from graduating seniors, Slipych built a Ukrainian-style school desk.

Slipych designed her piece so visitors would sit at the desk and use workbooks to learn how to write letters and words in Ukrainian.

Behind the desk, a projector displays images on the wall. Some pictures depict Ukrainian culture through food, architecture and people while other pictures show the effects of the current attacks from Russia.

“The kids are being robbed of their learning opportunities — connecting with their culture, sitting at a Ukrainian school desk and learning,” Slipych said. “Since that was something very important for me in my life — my experience of Ukraine is best encapsulated as a young kid — [and] that was my last experience I had in Ukraine. I empathize with kids the most.”

The 2023 annual BFA exhibition: "Another Kind of Time" is on display through May 13.

It takes place at the H&R Block Artspace at 16 East 43rd Street (where Slipych’s piece is located) and the KCAI Gallery on campus at 4415 Warwick Boulevard.

The galleries are open from noon to 5 p.m.; although, the KCAI gallery is closed Wednesday. Admission is free.