Iryna Kanishcheva ‘Connecting Communities Through Public Art, TED Talk 2017

The GraffitiStreet team caught up with street art curator, and photographer, Iryna Kanishcheva to congratulate her on her recent TED Talk ‘Connecting Communities Through Public Art’, forming part of the TEDxKU programme. Iryna speaks about her recent ‘Art United Us’ curated projects, from the special mural in Chernobyl, to the front line in Ukraine … an inspiring and passionate talk. If you haven’t had chance to watch it yet read through our selected snippets and photos from the day…

“Street art can provoke conversations and highlight social, political and environmental issues and has always been a powerful platform to convey messages to the masses. Originally vandalism used to mark territorial boundaries today street art is a tool for urban beautification and revitalization. Artists often travel between countries, spread their design, gain mass followings, and work commercially”

“Many artists got bored by repetitive street art festivals and look for deep meaning in their work, sometimes in unusual places”

“One of the most interesting projects I had an opportunity to co-organize was in Chernobyl, Ukraine. We wanted to acknowledge the 30th anniversary of the worst nuclear disaster by creating a painting from a photograph taken by Igor Kostin, giving a tribute also to the photographer”.

“The work was created inside a technical construction close to the exploded reactor. This area is still very restricted and the level of radiation is higher than normal. The artist was able to use only a ladder, and painted for just ONE day”. 

“After that, many other artists asked us about an opportunity to paint in this area, because it is cool. But it is not cool, it is a scary place! We did it only once to commemorate the tragedy responsible for taking so many lives!”

“In Eastern Ukraine, where a war is taking place, we organized another unusual project. In 2014 pro-Russian separatists captured several towns. There we created a mural!”

“Bulletproof vests and helmets were worn by the artist and photographers”

“The teacher’s husband got injured during the fighting in 2014. They were not able to afford his medical treatment. After the mural was painted, a journalist wrote about her story in an article. The attention helped her to fundraise for her husband’s recovery!”

“It was named one of the most thoughtful murals of 2016, according to UK street art blog GraffitiStreet.”

“One of the main goals of the project was to attract world attention to Ukraine”

“Instability that shows a ballerina dancing on a bomb is criticizing the failure of coexistence between people on Earth”

“… This person is not present physically, but a sense of presence is here. It is a story about missing someone, like soldiers that are fighting to liberate the East of Ukraine right now”.

“Similarly, a French artist painted a gift named “From Russia with love”. An interpretation of the Love / Hate relationship between Russia and Ukraine!”

“… In an abstract way, the 26 story mural incorporates the Ukrainian word ВОЛЯ (Liberty)”.

“This all began right here in Gainesville, where my first project was organised …”

“11 murals by Internationally recognized artists were created. As well as 11 murals by local artists”

“I wanted to bring something new to this city, more colors, more murals, more events and opportunities for artists”

“… A mural that is dedicated to the problem of gentrification and displacement!”

“… Many people love the mural and often take selfies in front of it. But some, who know this is a chemical formula of Methamphetamine would want to paint it over”

“People in Jacksonville really liked the mural before it was buffed, but the bank managers were sure that people would feel uncomfortable with Big brother watching them”

“The most recent project I have done was supported only by neighbours and ordinary people, no sponsors or organizations, no city involvement.”

“An internationally recognized artist created a mural for us with the portrait of Wilhelmina Johnson, a prominent local educator, to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the Black community in our town”.

“… a very important mural we created with the mission of raising awareness and stimulating dialogue about global ocean environmental issues”

“I believe public art is the perfect mediator between artists and audiences to inspire action. Each of us can contribute. If not through giving permissions to paint on your property, providing sponsorship or engaging artists, just simply stop by and try to understand what it means.”

Catch the full video here …


Photo/text credit Iryna Kanishcheva




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