Sunflowers are currently in bloom at the Old Sculpin Gallery in Edgartown. Decorating the walls of the historic gallery, operated by the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association (MVAA), are dozens of images of the brilliant, bright yellow flowers whose image has come to represent support for the Ukrainian people.
The sunflower is not only the national flower of Ukraine, it has also come to be used as a symbol of peace. (In June 1996, ministers from the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine marked Ukraine’s nuclear weapon disarmament by planting sunflowers at the Pervomaysk missile base.)
As a show of support for the people of Ukraine, the MVAA chose to kick off its summer season with a fundraising show titled “Colors for Ukraine,” featuring work by 20-plus of the gallery’s members who, in keeping with the theme of the show, are offering work focusing either on sunflowers and/or the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
The artists will donate a minimum of 20 percent of their proceeds to an organization called World Central Kitchen, which has since the beginning of the war provided 25 million meals to the people of Ukraine. Their motto is “Food is a universal right.”
While many of the artists chose to represent sunflowers in their contributions to the show, others have used the color theme in a variety of creative ways. Theresa Yuan’s oil painting, “Stone Walls,” features a striated blue sky above the painting’s focal point, with a field of yellow daffodils below. Judith Howells, who came up with the idea and curated the show, chose another symbol of peace — a white dove — for her contribution. Standing in front of a golden orb against a vivid blue background — the image both represents an ideal and pays homage to the colors of Mother Nature to be found in the sky and sun.
Brian Kirkpatrick found a clever way to honor the theme and the cause. His painting “President Zelensky” shows the Ukraine leader sitting in a yellow chair in a blue room holding a white rabbit on his lap. The large painting, done in Kirkpatrick’s signature colorful whimsical style, provides a bold graphic art–influenced image.
The show includes photography and ceramics as well as paintings. Incorporated in 1954, the nonprofit MVAA is the Island’s oldest art organization. Its mission is “to increase facilities of art education, create interest in the arts, make an art center for the whole Island, establish a permanent collection, and preserve an old landmark.” Housed in a former boatbuilder’s shed, the gallery has been providing a space for exhibitions and workshops for almost 70 years. The MVAA also fosters art education, and provides scholarships for local high school students.
Howells (who is also the membership chairman) notes that the member artists responded enthusiastically to her call for participants. “It’s really about the members showing support, using art as a way to show a sense of support to people who are enduring a sudden displacement. We want our artwork to send a powerful message of hope and support to those suffering in this humanitarian crisis.”
“Colors for Ukraine,” a benefit exhibit at Old Sculpin Gallery, May 27 to June 3. 58 Dock St., Edgartown. 508-627-4881, oldsculpingallery.org.