Portland artist selling paintings to fund aid for fellow Ukrainians

Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 6:55 PM PST
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For decades, Portland artist Tatyana Ostapenko has called the United States home, but Ukraine is both her past and the core of her identify, and that’s where her heart is now.

“This is a friend of mine,” Ostapenko held up a painting of a woman spinning around. “We grew up going to the same little village and bathed by the river and goofed around in the fields…her part of town is under the heaviest bombardment right now and they do not have a shelter nearby, so they are holed up in the interior part of their buildings.”

Ostapenko said she could share so many more stories of the suffering and uncertainty that her Ukrainian friends face, as they grapple with a terrifying war.

Instead, she’s laser-focused on doing what she can to help – telling Fox 12 that she’s coping with the reality of war in her homeland by “being a being a workaholic and by selling every single piece of art that I have in my studio.”

All the proceeds from the sale of her painting will go to the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, Ostapenko said.

Dozens of her paintings sold in just a few days and Ostapenko has already raised more than $27,000 for the Global Giving Fund.

“I am so grateful that I have something to donate because I don’t have money in the bank on this scale, to be able to donate, and I don’t have the kinds of skills that would be really useful on the ground,” Tatyana said.

When you look at her most intimate work, Ostapenko’s creative muse is clear.

“I don’t choose my subject matter, it chose me,” Ostapenko explained. “I left Ukraine 25 years ago, but it all came with me. It’s always at my back.”

Ostapenko said she is from Kharkiv; the city has been brutalized by the Russian forces as it has come under heavy attack.

She grew up in Ukraine both during the Soviet Union era and after it collapsed.

She came to the U.S. as a young adult to go to college, and worked in several professions, including as a stockbroker, before she pursued her passion as an artist.

Ostapenko said she never even attempted painting until she was well into her 30′s.

For Ostapenko, her work is her medium to express the suffering and chaos that Eastern Europe has long endured.

“The generational trauma of my people is profound and that is my source of inspiration -- for the lack of better word,” Ostapenko said.

It’s not an inspiration,” she corrected. “It’s an urgency -- it’s a compulsion.”

And her latest purpose is just as urgent and heartbreaking as ever.

“They are just people, children,” Ostapenko said of the war. “They are bombing kindergartens and orphanages.”

Her hope is that others will feel inspired to join her, using their dollars to make a true difference.

“They get art that for the rest of their life will remind them that they weren’t just sitting around when part of the world was in flames,” Ostapenko said.

For more information about the donations and the artwork for sale you can visit: https://tatyanaostapenko.com/

More information about the Global Giving Fund is here