New Sarasota exhibit features artwork of Ukrainian children coping with war

An art installation in Sarasota is capturing the reality of the war in Ukraine through the eyes of the children living through it.

Artist Wojtek Sawa created "The "Ukrainian Kids Art" exhibit to amplify the voices of children during a very difficult time in their lives. It’s inspired by a bombed classroom and features artwork from Ukrainian children of all ages that show how their lives have changed.

"I immigrated to this country when I was 11 years old," said Sawa. "In many ways, it was a horrible experience for a child because I lost everything that I loved my friends, my playground, my extended family. And, you know, it was a different language, different customs. So, it was very difficult for me. So, I think on that level, I can connect with those kids and have a sense that it is difficult for them."

Sawa partnered with groups in Ukraine along with schools and foster homes in Poland helping the Ukrainian children cope through art.

"I think it's therapeutic for the children because it gives them an ability to look at what's going on and address it through their emotions, through their talent, and synthesize some kind of an artistic view of it," Sawa said.

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Sawa is known for creating participatory art exhibits, so visitors can leave handwritten notes that will be shared with the children. There’s an opportunity for visitors to also donate. All donations will go to the child artists. 

Sawa and his wife will travel to Poland next month to deliver the donations. The exhibit will be in the Westfield Southgate Mall, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34239 through May 21.