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Auguri per la Festa della Donna! Today is la Giornata Internazionale della Donna or International Women’s Day-originally known as International Working Women’s Day. There is no one specific organization or event behind International Women’s Day, but it is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day to recognize the achievements of women and a call to action towards gender equality.  More about la festa della donna is in this post.

On International Women’s Day, I like to write about the accomplishments of outstanding women. This year, I have appropriately chosen to share Mariya Prymachenko (1909-1997) with you.  Mariya was a Ukrainian folk art painter and embroidery artist from a peasant family in the village of Bolotnya, about 30km away from Chernobyl.  A self-taught artist, Mariya only went to school for 4 years, then developed polio.  She had several surgeries in Kyiv so that she could stand on her own.  There she also met her partner Vasyl in who was killed in WW2 before they had a chance to marry.  Their son Fedir and his 2 sons Petro and Ivan Prymachenko were/are also artists.

650 of Mariya’s works are in the collection of the National Folk and Decorative Arts Museum in Kyiv.  Mariya’s primitive or ‘naive’ style paintings are bold, colourful and expressive, inspired by Ukrainian folk traditions, the natural environment, and fairy-tales. Pablo Picasso said of her ‘I bow down before the artistic miracle of this brilliant Ukrainian‘-and I do not think he was generous with his compliments!

My first exposure to the 2 paintings pictured here ‘A dove has spread her wings and asks for peace'(1982) and ‘Our army, our protectors'(1972) was on Zöe’s post. In light of the unprovoked aggression on the Ukraine from Russia, I found the imagery and the titles of these paintings extremely moving.

Last week the Ivankiv Historical and Local Museum housing 25 of Mariya’s works was burned in the Russian aggression.  It was thought that the works were lost, but according to her grand-daughter Anastasia Prymachenko, local residents ran in and were able to save 10 of Mariya’s paintings. Hopefully the injustice and aggression taking place in the Ukraine will soon come to an end.

Ciao, Cristina