Heaven forbid our Maidan guards have to fight Berkut again: then the latter will have to raise their hands against the images of saints, angels, warriors with children, portraits of Taras Shevchenko, Ukrainian landscapes, against everything a person holds dear. And this is what artists painted on the shields of our protesters and Maidan guards.
This action was organized by the Art Squadron, which is based at the Ukrainian House. Artists were encouraged to decorate the armor of Ukrainian protesters to raise their morale. At first artists talked to people, listened to their life stories. And as it happens in any creative mind, these stories gave rise to certain images, symbols, and senses, which were later depicted on wooden and metal shields. A total of 23 military artworks were made.
There was no need to go far for inspiration: things that were on fighters’ minds were depicted on shields: home, family, native Ukrainian landscapes. For example, Vasyl from Ivano-Frankivsk oblast painted his shield himself. He drew the coat of arms of his Hutsul Squadron: mountains, the sun, Hutsul axes, household items.
Artists portrayed Maidan fighters: one with a child, another one with a girlfriend. There is also a shield with Shevchenko’s portrait. One artist painted flowers: heart representing Ukraine in the middle with flowers sprouting from it. There are a lot of shields with images of guardian angels and saints.
Artists say that fighters are in a peaceful mood: they say their current task is to prevent a civil war, maintain peace, and protect women who are at Maidan. Perhaps once, “when we win,” the Art Squadron will make an exhibition of these shields.
Yulia OVCHARENKO, artist:
“I got a chance to paint a shield of a young man, a Maidan guard from Dnipropetrovsk. In order to get inspiration for work, I talked to him first. I learned he has been living at Maidan for three months, he arrived after the beating of students. The man quit his job because he thinks his place is here. He told me that his sister is a student with a lot of friends in Kyiv. He says she could have been there during the beating as well. At first the man worked as a volunteer: he helped with chopping wood and cooking, and did everything that was required. Later, he was present during the events on Hrushevsky Street and during the assault on the Ukrainian House. He said he is going to be here until the victory, because there is no turning back. His family and friends support him. I said there was little use of me as an artist and a girl at the barricades, but I would like to show support in any way I can. That is why I participated in this artistic event.
“Art is a weapon, too. And I think this kind of support is important as well. I was inspired by the thought that no one knows whether Maidan would survive, whether defenders would have withstood the severe weather, dispersal, Berkut attacks without the support of girls and women. And I had an idea, I painted a Maidan fighter who is holding hands with a Ukrainian girl. Both of them stand at the barricades wearing helmets. I wrote that our strength is in the unity of hearts. I wanted to show the importance of people being united.
“The shield I worked with was wooden, I used acrylic paint. We painted the shields and gave them back to their owners, because they use them to defend themselves.
“I am very happy artists created something nice for Maidan defenders. I made a bright and cheerful shield. Some might say it must be used in fights, but I wanted to make it in a way that anyone who sees it would find it impossible to cold-bloodedly shoot at people. I wanted it to instantly raise morale and inspire optimism and faith in the victory.”