BRAMA Theatre Events Workshops Translations Series Newsletter Calendar Store Yara Home

Koliadnyky outside
the Ukrainian Institute of America

The koliadnyky and Virlana Tkacz

Halyna Zakharisevych-Lypa's
peacock koliadka

Roman Hrab's installation
from the outside

Roman Hrab's installation

Margaret Morton's installation


Yara Arts Group & the Ukrainian Institute of America present:

the Koliadnyky of Kryvorivnia
Alexis Kochan & Julian Kytasty
plus the responses of sixteen visual artists to the ancient koliada texts

December 15-16, 2006
Ukrainian Institute of America
2 East 79th St (at Fifth Avenue)
New York City


“Contemporary Art Inspired by Ancient Texts
Celebrates "Koliada" at UIA”

by Olena Jennings
Ukrianian Weekly, February 11, 2007

"At the Ukrainian Institute on Fifth Avenue the Yara Arts Group not only created a unique performance to celebrate the Ukrainian tradition of koliady, or winter songs, but also presented art by fifteen visual artists inspired by the songs.

On the ground floor of the Ukrainian Institute were Annette Friedman’s sculptures. The representation of birds inspired the same optimism that is present in the words of the koliada: No one knows the heart of the dove/ This dove has a heart that is alive/ The dove sees the bee in trouble/ And wants to rescue her from death

Winding up the staircase were Alexander Khantaev’s vivid photographs of the koliadnyky, winter song singers. Some of the photographs featured the same koliadnyky who came from Ukraine to share their rituals and participate in the performance. The bright handmade costumes of the koliadnyky were accentuated against the snowy backgrounds. The photographs also gave insight into different aspects of the koliada ritual including the training of young koliadnyky and the playing of the imposing rih, or mountain horn.

Zhy! Ice and snow in the mountains/ Zhy! Poppies bloom in the valley In one of Peter Ihnat’s photographs a salt crystal was magnified to reveal its hidden aspects. It might have tricked the viewer into believing it was ice. His other photograph featured trees draped with ice, leaving the viewer with the feeling of winter isolation.

The bright sun was complaining to our dear Lord/ Lord, I don’t want to get up early in the morning/ Because wicked housewives have appeared/ Who do laundry on Sunday morning Sofika used pysanky to interpret this koliada. Her pysanky were all adorned with different representations of the sun. They were displayed on a mantle where their reflections shone in the mirror.

The peacocks were flying in the mountain above/ And dropping their feathers in the valley below/ There was a path from long ago/ A fine young lady walked there Larissa Babij sent her photographs from Kyiv. The landscape photos were presented in two forms. On the tables in front of them were puzzle versions that invited the viewers to participate in the construction of the photographs.

The peacock struts/ Dropping its feathers/ A beautiful girl/ Follows after Yara recently discovered the art of Halyna Zakhariasevych Lypa, which was done in the 1940’s. Lypa’s interpretation of the peacock koliada recalls folk drawings.

Honest woman wake up, don’t sleep/ Oh rejoice, oh Earth rejoice for the Good Lord was born Marc Kehoe’s painting was a depiction of the honest woman, alert for Christmas miracles.

May God grant you fine herbs in the garden/ Fine herbs in the garden, and a fine wedding in your home Olga Maryschuk’s graphics used monochromatic colors and traditional Ukrainian motifs, striking in their simplicity and the cultural information they conveyed in the depiction of a wedding and sunflower.

Before the world began/ Before there was a heaven or an earth/ There was only the blue sea/ And in the center of the sea stood a green tree Roman Hrab, Chrystia Saj, Joel Schlemowitz, and Stefan Tur all had different interpretations of this koliada. The blue neon in Roman Hrab’s installation added a touch of the contemporary and the scintillating silver seemed to portend the future. When viewers made their way up the grand stairs, they couldn’t help but be lured in front of Joel Schlemowitz’s video installation. Schlemowitz used footage of the koliadnyky and projected it on a screen that had the uneven appearance of an animal hide. The wavering hazy quality of the images invited the viewer to re-imagine the koliada in a modern experimental light.

In those wild grasses roams a stag so grand/ This grand stag has three and nine horns/ On his tenth horn a great castle stands… Anya Farion’s piece invoked the traditional coziness of winter, but gave it a new twist. A reindeer looked through a window that a curtain created in the viewer’s imagination. Her son Andriy Keeley populated the piece with origami birds.

Is the master home? Andrea Odezynska’s video transported the viewer to the landscape of the koliada, the Carpathian Village of Kryvorivnia.

Shadows were used to invoke a narrative in Marybeth Ward’s piece. In the darkened room, a light shone onto the crisp pile of leaves that the shadows moved across. Sounds emphasized the movement of the shadows, giving the viewer the pleasurable feeling of being lost in the woods. The piece also had a fairytale quality when, in a shadow, the viewer saw a wolf stretch open its wide jaws.

The fine young lady named Maria/ She gathers herself and goes to church/ / Oh the church doors, they open themselves/ Oh the books, they open themselves. The themes of the koliada go beyond those of winter rites. This was especially evident in Margaret Morton’s piece in which she drew attention to the place of the “fine young lady” in the winter songs. The image of the lady was represented by the assumed perfection of the strands of blond hair wrapped around a book. Pieces of paper on which lines of the songs were written served as bookmarks. The ancient winter songs were infused with new life and meaning by contemporary artists working with both traditional and modern media."


Koliada and Hutsul Music at Ukrainian Museum in New York, Dec 7, 2008

Winter Sun: New Art and Tradition
at Ukrainain Institute of America in New York December 19-21, 2008
Friday Dec 19 8PM Exhibit opening: works of contemporary artists
Saturday Dec 20 8PM Gala concert, readings by poets and new culinary interpretations of ritual food
Saturday afternoon December 20 Seminar & Workshop in Hutsul music and winter songs

Still the River Flows a theatrical celebration featuring Nativity puppets,
Carpathian musicians and winter song singers from around the world
at La MaMa Experimental Theatre New York Dec 26-28, 2008

About the Koliadnyky of Kryvorivnia

"In Search of the Hutsul Koliada of Kryvorivnia" by Virlana Tkacz

Koliada: Photographs by Alexander Khantaev at Spring Street Gallery, Saratoga Springs, NY Dec 17, 2006 to Jan 5, 2007
Workshop in Winter Song Singing with Koliadnyky, Alexis Kochan and Julian Kytasty in New York Dec 16, 2006
Koliada on Fifth Avenue Art and Music Festival at Ukrainain Institute of America in New York December 15, 2006
Still the River Flows installation and concert Ukrainian League of Philadelphia, December 8-10, 2006
Koliadnyky in Concert at Ukrainian Museum in New York, Dec 3, 2006
Still the River Flows installation at Ukrainian Museum, reveiws and photographs December 11, 2005 - Febraury 6, 2006
Koliadnyky of Kryvorivnia in Concert at La MaMa Galleria March 16, 2005
Koliada: Winter Rituals photo exhibit and video installation at La MaMa Galleria January 15-23, 2005
Koliada: Twelve Dishes information on theatre piece, reviews and photographs at La MaMa ETC March 4-20, 2005
Koliada theatre workshop at Les Kurbas National Theatre Center, Kyiv, Ukraine December 4-5, 2004

Photos on this page by Roman Hrab, Margaret Morton and Stefan Tur Copyright (c)2006

Return to contents

If you would like to be included on our mailing list
send us your name and full postal address

or write to:

Yara Arts Group
306 East 11th St., #3B
New York, NY 10003 USA

Phone/Fax: 212-475-6474

Tell us what you think of our homepage!

Top of page | Arts & Culture | Yara Homepage
Yara Arts Group; all rights reserved.

BRAMA Home -- UkraiNEWStand -- Community Press -- Calendar
Advertise on BRAMA -- Search BRAMA
Copyright © 1997-2011 BRAMA,, Inc. All Rights Reserved.