GLENS FALLS — Bethanie Lawrence pointed to an artwork by a 10-year-old Ukrainian child painted in 2015 titled “Symbolic Patterns.”
“This 10-year-old is now 17, maybe 18, and maybe preparing to go out and defend his homeland, which is really sad,” said Lawrence, executive director of the World Awareness Children’s Museum in Glens Falls. .
The museum houses the collection of the International Youth Art Exchange. Groups of students from all over the world send their works to the museum, which in turn sends them works from another country.
The program has grown considerably since its launch in 1988. At least 100 countries are represented with more than 8,000 works of art.
“We use all the art really for educational purposes,” Lawrence said. “We love using art to show children the world through the eyes of other children.”
Several of the pieces come from children in Odessa, a port city on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine.
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The work is not currently on display, however, the museum will feature some Ukrainian art on its social media channels, a response to Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
“What we’re doing is teaching kids that people around the world aren’t that different from them,” Lawrence said.
“Just because we do different things with different traditions or speak different languages or look different doesn’t mean we have to hate each other just because of our differences.”
Lawrence hopes sharing the artwork will bring some peace to people during this tumultuous time in Ukraine. Artwork can be a way to help people connect, she said.
“It’s not just strangers,” she said. “We don’t know them personally, but they are like our own children and siblings, and they fight to protect their homeland from an invading country.”
Gretta Hochsprung writes features and news from her hometown. She can be reached at 518-742-3206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.