Riga archdiocese hosts exhibition on Ukrainian refugee children’s artwork

An exhibition of artwork by Ukrainian refugee children opened on May 8 at the complex of St James’ Cathedral in Riga.

May 13, 2022

The opening night of an exhibition of art by Ukrainian refugee children at St. James' Cathedral in Riga, Latvia, May 8, 2022. | Archdiocese of Riga.

By Carl Bunderson
An exhibition of artwork by Ukrainian refugee children opened on May 8 at the complex of St James’ Cathedral in Riga. Hosted by Archbishop Zbig?ev Stankevi?s, the event was attended by several ambassadors to Latvia.

“This initiative of [the] Catholic Church of Latvia managed to unite Latvian society — government bodies, businesses and private citizens in the name of children, love and support for one another,” said the Archbishop of Riga.

“It was amazing that we also hosted an international audience — 14 ambassadors in Latvia,” Archbishop Stankevi?s added.

The archbishop gave an opening speech at the event. Among those in attendance were his auxiliary, Bishop Andris Kravalis; Fr Roman Sapuzhak of the Greek-Catholic parish in Riga; and Olexandr Mischenko, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Latvia.

“In spite of all horrors that those children went through, those works have no feeling of revenge, fear or hatred in them. They are full of kindness and hope,” Archbishop Stankevi?s said during his opening speech.

Mischenko thanked the Catholic Church in Latvia for its warm welcome and heartfelt support for the children, who had lost so much.

Gabriella Cabiere, an art historian who is curating the exhibition, spoke about Ukraine’s future and the artistic talent of the children.

The opening night included a live concert to give the children and their families “an evening to remember and for a few hours to take their minds off the horrors happening in their homeland,” the Archbishop of Riga said.

The exhibit includes art since March by more than 200 children who have come to Latvia following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The works “show so much pain but also tenacity, spirit and hope. Those works of art are talking to us and bringing real life, unadulterated emotions of children that went through horror,” a representative of the Riga archdiocese said.

The artworks include tanks and experiences of the war, but also homes and pets that were left behind.
“Those families are in great need of our help not only physical but also emotional. They need to know that they are not alone in this war but that the whole world is behind them and with them. Those children are the future of their country,” the representative reflected.

The opening was a “special moment” for the archdiocese because the Church had extended an invitation to the diplomatic corps in Riga “and received an overwhelming response, now they’re coming together to show unity of support to Ukrainian people.”

The exhibit has been organised by Caritas Latvija and the Church in the country. It will remain open until May 23 with free admission. Donations will be used to maintain the children’s art studio. --CNA

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