Bishop Mykhailo (Koltun) opened an exhibit of fine arts painted by prisoners

Saturday, 10 August 2013, 17:40
Today on August 10th in the Art Gallery of the Ivan Honchar Musuem, the head of UGCC Department of Penitentiary Pastoral Services, Bishop Mykhailo (Koltun), opened an exhibit-competition of fine and applied arts done by prisoners, entitled "Transfiguration through God’s Love.”

In looking through each of the works exhibited, Bishop Mykhailo noted during the opening ceremony that through this exhibit “we are communicating with God through the prisoners.”

“Jesus Christ is giving us the initiative on how to live in order to try to follow Him. And when we try to follow Christ our road will be successful. Let us turn our attention to the prisoner. What can we do for him? Follow Christ’s initiative. Give them something to wear, something to drink. If they do not need these, then we ourselves need them because we want to create charitable deeds. Maybe we will not cure the prisoner totally, but we will heal ourselves. Jesus Christ beckons us to go to that prisoner because He is in him,” said the Bishop.

Petro Honchar, director of the Ivan Honchar Museum, noted that the exhibit “was done with great love and one can simply feel the exhibit hall pulsing with this love.” This was done with particular love by hierarch Kostiantyn Panteley – responsible in UGCC for the prison ministry. Rev. Kostiantyn was present at the framing of every picture. He not only concerned himself with an esthetic display of the art works but also with the desire to assure that the visitors would correctly comprehend the goal of the exhibit.

“The goal of the exhibit is to enhance the social dialogue and the process of reintegration of our compatriots who have ended up in places of detention, as well as to familiarize the general public with the harvest of the cooperation of the Church with the Pententiary Service of Ukraine in terms of returning these people to society,” claims Rev. Kostiantyn.

It turns out that more than 90% of all the works by the prisoners are sacred art. Perhaps, supposes hierarch Kostiantyn, the prisoners were so affected by the title of the exhibit – “Transfiguration through God’s Love,” since no concrete themes were listed.

The head of the Department of the Criminal-Implementation Inspection and the Social-Psychological Work with the sentenced of the Penitentiary Department Oleh Yanchuk stresses what a significant role the Church plays in the Penitentiary System of Ukraine. “Behind each one of these works stands a real person, who in his/her life did bad things for which they ended up in prison.  That is one side of the coin.  On the other side, the work of each prisoner is an attempt to tell us something which lies in one’s soul.  Maybe in this way, the prisoners are asking for forgiveness for their actions.  Maybe they are asking for some sort of an understanding. We do know that not all who sit behind bars have committed a crime…” underlines Mr. Oleh Yanchuk.

The opening of the exhibit was also visited by Rev. Viktor Yatsenko, head of the administration of Inter-confessional Christian Missions.

The director of the Patriarchal Curia Division of the Section of Social Issues, Rev. Andriy Nahirniak emphasizes the importance of the social aspect of the prison service.  “If we want the society to change, then we should not push away from us people who perhaps due to various social and  material circumstances have ended up in a particular situation.  We should do everything that they become socialized.  We should also remember that any one of us can also end up in the same situation.  And when we assist someone else, then, above all, we are helping ourselves. 

National deputy Yuriy Derev’yanko also came to the opening:  “When I look at these works, I understand that the organizers are truly doing God’s work, since through such an exhibit they give the prisoners hope for the future.”

At the end of the opening, the ceremony of transferring the art works from the Pententiary System to the Church was completed.   

The exhibit will last until August 26, 2023.  It includes close to 200 works, collected from the Penitentiary institutions of all regions of Ukraine.

On August 19, 2013, the winners and the prizes will be announced.  Also some 30 works from the national competition will be included in the international art exhibit of prisoners in Freising (Germany) and the rest of the works will be shown over a three year period as a traveling exhibit throughout Ukraine.  


UGCC Department of Information 


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