For the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I wanted to illuminate Ukraine’s
perseverance and spirit by creating a composite of a historical figure of St. Olga, Ukraine’s first
woman leader and the mythological creature from Slavic folklore known as the sirin, a bird that possesses a woman’s head.
While St. Olga was a controversial figure, I couldn't help but emphasize the depths that a woman could go through to avenge her wounded heart. Her story of vengeance against
an opposing tribe that murdered her husband was by all accounts incendiary. While I won’t
go into details here, the maxim, “All sinners can be saints and all saints can be sinners.” definitely encapsulates this. Perhaps I am naively sifting through the darkness to reconfigure her as an idealized symbol of defiance against opposing forces. Her story was not taught in Ukrainian schools, due to the Soviet Union’s erasure of Ukrainian identity, culture, and history, which is now unfolding in current time as the war intensifies and continues.
The sirin, commonly viewed as a destructive figure calling one to their destruction, in my research I have found tellings where the sirin’s song is said to have the power to stop wars.
This is a visual alchemy of recasting these polarizing figures into a reborn archetype that is an embodiment of hope, healing, and determination to recover from loss and rebuild anew.
Though wounded, she is still able to keep soaring, the drops of blood a somber reminder of the human toll of this devastating conflict.
Prints are available for purchase in my shop
100% of proceeds of all Unbroken Sirin print sales go to Ukrainian humanitarian relief efforts
Watercolor, ink, and gouache on Hot press watercolor paper
9" x 12"