TRANSFORMING AMMO BOXES IN TO ICONS opens November 3 at the Museum of Russian Icons
The Museum of Russian Icons presents Artists for Ukraine: Transforming Ammo Boxes into Icons, from November 3, 2022 to February 13, 2023, an installation dramatically featuring three Ukrainian icons painted on the boards of ammo boxes by Oleksandr Klymenko and Sofia Atlantova, a husband-wife artistic team from Kyiv, Ukraine.
The project “Buy an icon, save a life” was developed in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, when Klymenko encountered empty wooden ammunition boxes from combat zones and noted their resemblance to icon panels (doski). By repurposing the panels, the project strives, in the artist’s words, to “transform death (symbolized by ammo boxes) into life (traditionally symbolized by icons in Ukrainian culture). The goal, this victory of life over death, does not only occur on a figurative and symbolic level but also in reality through these icons on the boxes of ammunition.”
Ammunition box icon exhibits have been held across Europe and North America to raise awareness of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Additionally, the sales provided substantial funds to support the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital, the largest non-governmental enterprise to provide medical assistance to the Donbass region. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 reinforced the will of Atlantava and Klymenko to continue painting icons on boards recovered from the front. To date, the project has raised over $300,000.
One of the purposes of the installation will be to help raise funds for the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital.
Sofia Atlantova (born in 1981 in Kyiv) is an artist and writer who studied at the Shevchenko State Art School in Kyiv and the National Academy of Art and Architecture. Atlantava works in the field of monumental and easel art, book illustration and installation art. She participates in many exhibitions in Ukraine and abroad.
Oleksandr Klymenko (born in 1976 in Kyiv) is an artist and art critic, writer (under the pseudonym of Olaf Clemensen) and member of the Ukrainian Union of Artists. He graduated from the National Academy of Art and Architecture in 1998 and completed a postgraduate course at the Rylsky Institute of Art History, Folklore and Ethnography in 2002. Klymenko worked as a teacher at Kyiv State Institute of Decorative and Applied Arts Boychuk and Design and High Humanitarian and Theological Courts in Kyiv. Klymenko works in the field of monumental and easel arts. He participated in exhibitions in Ukraine and abroad, and organized many literary and artistic actions and performances.
Franklin Sciacca, Emeritus Professor of Russian Language and Literature at Hamilton College in New York, has lectured extensively on Russian Orthodox iconography and East Slavic folklore. He has written articles for Slavic Review, Nabokov Almanac, Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, and Journal of the Slavic, East European and Eurasian Folklore Association. Her current research interests include the history of Pochayiv Monastery and the ritual function of textiles in Ukrainian traditions.
Sciacca, whose grandmother emigrated to the United States from Bazaliya, Ukraine, earned her doctorate and master’s degrees at Columbia University. In 2018 he curated Rushnyky: Sacred Ukrainian Textiles at the Museum of Russian Icons, an exhibition celebrating and exploring Ukrainian culture through one of its oldest and most beloved traditions.
The Museum of Russian Icons preserves and exhibits one of the world’s largest collections of Orthodox Christian icons, bronze crosses and Slavic folk art. Spanning over six centuries, the collection showcases the development of the icon from its Egyptian and Byzantine roots and explores the spread of Orthodoxy across cultures.
The museum serves as a leading center for research and scholarship through the Center for Icon Studies and other institutional collaborations. It is the only museum in the United States dedicated to Russian icons and the most extensive collection of icons outside of Russia.
Visit the website, www.museumofrussianicons.orgwhich houses the online collection (including research papers on individual icons), a virtual tour of the museum, the Journal of Icon Studies and the British Museum’s Catalog of Byzantine and Greek Icons.