Ukrainian artists open the door to the horrors of war in Edmonton art exhibition

The Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts opened its doors on Saturday to showcase the exhibit Doors. (Nathan Gross/CBC - image credit)
The Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts opened its doors on Saturday to showcase the exhibit Doors. (Nathan Gross/CBC - image credit)

The Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts opened its doors on Saturday to showcase a feature exhibition, which uses physical doors from in and around Ukraine to depict the toll of war since Russia invaded the country in February.

The Doors installation by Ruslan Kurt is intended to draw a parallel with life as a door and make viewers reflect on what it means to face life with the looming threat of death.

"You open doors to welcome people into your protection, and to see the ruins of these doors pulled on my heartstrings," Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz, who sits on the board of directors for the council, said in an interview on Saturday before the exhibition.

"We thought this is a story we need to tell our public here in Alberta, in Edmonton."

Nathan Gross/CBC
Nathan Gross/CBC

In the beginning of November, the council started showing the artwork of Ukrainian artists who recently arrived in Canada.

Kurt is an Ukrainian-born artist who is based in Toronto and said he was inspired to create his installation to tell the stories of millions of Ukrainian men, women and children who were forced to leave their homes.

A collection of 13 doors from locations in Ukraine like hospitals, cafés, schools and homes were brought over to Canada to show the impacts of war.

The installation also pays tribute to those who did not make it past the door of their homes and died during the war.

"When the war started, millions of families in Ukraine opened the doors of their homes and closed them ... leaving their normal lives behind," Kurt said as he spoke about how no Ukrainian was immune to the violence laid bare on their doorstep.

Nathan Gross/CBC
Nathan Gross/CBC

When the war began, Kurt was working abroad but his wife was still living in their hometown of Melitopol, located 684 kilometres south of the capital city of Kyiv.

"When she called me at 5 a.m. to say, 'A war has started,' it was very stressful moment," Kurt said.

It took two months for his wife to safely cross a border before the pair were reunited in a different country in Europe and came to Canada.

"When you see actual artifacts from the war, you can come, can touch, you can feel, because some of the doors which we brought are totally burned," Kurt said.

"So even the smell, you can feel the smell of the war, so it's involving you to feel the same ... what millions of Ukrainians are facing daily."

The council is hosting the exhibition until Nov. 25.