Brotherland: War In Ukraine

Brotherland: War in Ukraine

Opening Reception: 6-9pm, April 5th, 2019

Since protests in Kyiv drove President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February 2014, eastern Ukraine has been convulsed by a separatist insurgency that evolved into a full-fledged war centered in the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, an industrial region known as the Donbass.

After some four years, the war grinds on, stuck in an uneasy stalemate while delivering a steady stream of death and injury. For civilians living near the line of contact or within non-government-controlled areas, conflict is like the weather, an uncontrollable fact of life that shapes one’s day-to-day existence. Everyone continues their business as best they can with a practiced sense of normalcy.

For soldiers, enthusiasm for the cause, whether fueled by propaganda or patriotism, is tempered by the toil and terror of survival.

I’ve been photographing the war, and civilian life surrounding it, since its early days in April 2014, one of very few photographers to have continually worked on both sides. My portrayal emphasizes the incongruous absurdity inherent in armed conflict, the shock of the unimaginable juxtaposed with the utterly mundane. If anything is clear, it is that war is real, and it can happen anywhere.

Forgotten Forms (Chicago Cultural Center)

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Opening Reception: 2 – 4 pm on Saturday, February 2
On exhibit until April 7

Chicago Cultural Center
Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Fl East
78 E Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602


Forgotten Forms is a collaborative exhibition between members of the Chicago Cultural Alliance, the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (NMPRAC), and the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (UIMA).

Investigating seemingly everyday objects to reveal a much greater story about neighborhood identity, placemaking and city life, the exhibition highlights the work of two emerging artists, both of whom explore structural elements of urban landscapes. Edra Soto revisits Puerto Rico’s vernacular architecture through her GRAFT installations and architectural interventions, and Yhelena Hall touches on the history of Chicago and explores a marginal state of detritus becoming artifacts through her series Polished Remnants.

Yhelena Hall was born in Ukraine and studied painting and graphics at the Kharkiv State Art College when she became fascinated by iconography and folk art. In 2003-2007, she had her graphic series exhibited in solo and group shows in galleries of Kyiv, Ukraine. In 2007, Yhelena was awarded Fulbright Scholarship to obtain her MFA degree at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Concentrating in Sculpture, she developed a number of nature-based performances and process-driven sculptures, some of which were exhibited in the Samuel Dorsky Museum in New Paltz and the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York City. After her graduation in 2009, she participated in several art residencies throughout the Eastern Europe. In 2011, she received Rinat Akhmetov’s Foundation Grant to execute her piece focusing on the consumer identity and Ukrainian entertainment industry. Currently, based in Chicago, Yhelena continues working with sculptural media utilizing a broad range of materials with mechanical and electric elements.

Edra Soto was born in Puerto Rico and is a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist, educator, curator, and co-director of the outdoor project space THE FRANKLIN. She is invested in creating and providing visual and educational models propelled by empathy and generosity. Her recent projects are motivated by civic and social actions focus on fostering relationships with a wide range of communities. Most recently, Soto was awarded the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship and DCASE for Individual Artist Grant from the City of Chicago. Soto has attended residency programs at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (ME), Beta-Local (PR), and Ragdale Foundation (IL), amongst others. She is a lecturer for the Contemporary Practices Department at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she holds an MFA, and a bachelor’s degree from Escuela de Artes Plásticas de Puerto Rico.

This exhibition is presented through DCASE’s ArtsSpace in-kind grant program and supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.