Sunflowers for Ukraine: Whitehorse painter raises relief money through art

·2 min read
Ava P. Christl is a long-time Yukon painter. She has been painting sunflowers every day since the war began in Ukraine, and is now selling her work to raise money for relief efforts.  (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC - image credit)
Ava P. Christl is a long-time Yukon painter. She has been painting sunflowers every day since the war began in Ukraine, and is now selling her work to raise money for relief efforts. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC - image credit)

Today, April 19, marks 55 days since the start of the war in Ukraine.

Over the past month and a half, people all over the world, especially in the Yukon, have come together to show support for the Ukrainian people. From a solidarity demonstration in downtown Whitehorse to a homemade pierogi fundraiser and now, a Yukon painter who is trying to help in the best way she knows how — painting.

Ava P. Christl is a well-known painter in the Yukon. She has been painting sunflowers — the national flower of Ukraine — every day since the war began.

Now, she's selling her artwork to raise money for humanitarian aid through the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.

Each six-by-six inches oil painting is selling for $50. So far, Christl has sold more than 40 paintings.

"In the scheme of things, it's nothing. But it's way more than I could personally give for myself because I'm an artist and I'm a senior on a pension," she said.

Sissi De Flaviis/CBC
Sissi De Flaviis/CBC

Christl said the response from Yukoners has been positively overwhelming, especially the encouraging words.

"I got a message from somebody who is buying one saying, 'What a beautiful thing to do in the midst of all the horror that these beautiful flowers go out into the world and we're all connected,'" Christl said. "That really touches me."

30-day challenge

This is not the first time Christl has done a long streak of consecutive paintings.

Five years ago, when she was living in Victoria, she participated in a 30-day painting challenge organized by a Vancouver curator. Since then, she's been challenging herself to paint every day for the month of March.

"The first few years I did it just for myself as a challenge and then either sold the work regularly afterwards or just reworked them later," said Christl.

The first time she transformed her 30-day self challenge into a fundraiser was two years ago, when COVID-19 first shook the world.

"There were so many people in need at that time, so I gave the money to the food bank," she said.

Sissi De Flaviis/CBC
Sissi De Flaviis/CBC

This year, she said, she was hesitant to continue doing the challenge, until the war began on Feb. 24.

Christl said as soon as she heard about the Russian invasion in Ukraine, she started doing research to understand more about the conflict, Ukraine, and the historical events that led to the war.

"In a flash, I thought, OK, I'm going to make a little sunflower painting every day," she said. "Little did I, or anybody, know that we'd be here 50 some days later."

Christl is selling her paintings through both her Instagram account and Facebook page.

Sissi De Flaviis/CBC
Sissi De Flaviis/CBC
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