Co-Founders : Sarah Bachinger + Evelyn Smith
I am a 4th generation Ukrainian-American, my great-grandparents immigrated to, and settled in New York State from various areas in Western Ukraine in the early 1900’s during the first wave of immigration. My great-grandmother Thekla Hajtko was also Lemko, but strongly identified as Ukrainian. My family lived in the Mohawk Valley and were active members of the Ukrainian community there. I attended Ukrainian school as a child, learned folk songs and dances, as well as some Ukrainian language.
I have been a professional Fine Artist for the past 15 years in various media – more specifically photography and painting. My work has shown in galleries in California, Chicago, New York and Rome. While I am still an active photographer – I have turned back to the roots of my love of folk and traditional arts and the desire to build and foster a community around this work. My goals are to share traditional knowledges we are slowly loosing in this fast paced world, highlight and present exhibition opportunities to those working in the realm of folk art and tradition, and to create community centered art projects and opportunities to build cross cultural connections. I truly believe that artists are the keepers of culture, and that it is my responsibility to uphold, share and protect the Ukrainian traditions and knowledge that were passed to me by my ancestors.
The Pysanky For Peace project encompasses a vision I have had for quite some time, and came to be in a time when it is most needed to preserve, protect and share the uniqueness of Ukrainian culture, sovereignty, tradition, art and sense of community. With my teenage daughter, Evelyn Smith – we started the project during the first week of the war in Ukraine – allowing for not only an outlet to strengthen, share and celebrate our family traditions, but more importantly, to help raise funds to help those in Ukraine, after feeling called to take action in any way we could from afar.
My Baba taught me the traditional Ukrainian folk arts of cross-stitch embroidery and pysanky writing – I dedicate this project to her, and to all Ukrainians here abroad, and in the homeland who keep these traditions alive.