Artists in Solidarity with Ukraine
One year since the start of Russia's unprovoked, illegal aggression against Ukraine, we're acknowledging the resilience of the Ukrainian people and the solidarity shown by Romania and the rest of the peace-loving world through a project that demonstrates the power of visual art and the spoken word to denounce the ordeals and preserve the memory of these tragic times. Presented in partnership with the Ukrainian Institute of America (UIA), "SHATTERED: SYMBOLIC GESTURE" is a large-scale international collaboration that consists of a multimedia exhibition conceived by the Romanian-Canadian visual artist and polymath Oana Maria Cajal, accompanied by a series of video-poems and poetry readings offered by U.S.-based Romanian and Ukrainian poets.
The event took place at the Romanian Cultural Institute in the presence of artist Oana Maria Cajal along with readings of poetry written in reaction to the war in Ukraine offered by Adina Dabija, Olena Jennings, Mihaela Moscaliuc, Claudia Serea, Adela Sinclair, Vera Sirota, and an opening remarks by Kathy Nalywajko, the President of the Ukrainian Institute of America.
The multimedia exhibition included 24 collages – "picto-impulses" by Oana Maria Cajal and a video made by Ștefan Cajal with music by American composer and pianist Michael Roth.
The following poem by Vera Sirota honors the strength of a woman in dire circumstances.
Despite All Odds
by Vera Sirota
When the air raid siren blares
in my bed
on the top floor of my home.
I dare a Moscow missile to find me.
I am 99 years old.
I survived the Nazi invasion.
I survived Stalin’s terror.
I survived Soviet oppressors.
I will survive Putin’s pillagers.
Hope animates my heart
because this is a national trait –
a pride that propels us
a song that sustains us.
We bow to no one
and never will.
|Vera Sirota reading her poem at the exhibition, Shattered: Symbolic Gesture, hosted by The Romanian Cultural Institute.
|Oana Maria Cajal's Babusya inspired Vera to read Despite all Odds at the event.
Ukrainian American Poets Respond anthology edited by
Olena Jennings and Virlana Tkacz (2022).
SHATTERED: SYMBOLIC GESTURE edited by Claudia Serea (forthcoming fall 2023).
Vera Sirota is the proud granddaughter of Ukrainian immigrants.
Vera serves as a mentor for Girls Write Now, a creative writing organization for high school girls and gender-expansive youth in NYC. Vera’s poems have been featured or are forthcoming in the Armstrong Literary, Dark Onus Lit, Music of Hope: a benefit concert in support of Ukraine, Poetry Distillery, SHATTERED: SYMBOLIC GESTURE, exhibition, Stories by Girls Write Now, and Ukrainian American Poets Respond.
Vera is a 2022 Martha Award Finalist for the David Wade Hogue Scholarship. She is a co-founder of the West of Willow poetry and music collective in Hoboken.