GREENEVILLE – Tusculum University is supporting the humanitarian relief movement in Ukraine with a fundraiser on campus that will enable participants to see and potentially purchase beautiful art works created by citizens of a war-torn country.
The higher education institution will host a reception and silent auction for Restore Ukraine in the Clem Allison Art Gallery from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29. Restore Ukraine will use all proceeds to buy vouchers worth $1,000 that will be awarded to Ukrainians whose residences have been damaged this winter in the ongoing war with Russia.
Restore Ukraine is a nonprofit organization founded by two brothers, Yaroslav Hnatusko and Stanislav Hnatusko, in 2022 in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The two men are Ukrainians. Yaro is serving as executive director of this charity while his brother is the chair of the board with a primary function to control all humanitarian operations on the ground.
“We are pleased to assist Restore Ukraine by hosting this event and support the beleaguered citizens of Ukraine as part of our commitment to civic engagement,” said Dr. Scott Hummel, Tusculum’s president. “I am fortunate to know Yaro and am impressed with his relentless commitment to support his homeland while he is living in East Tennessee. We encourage people in our region to join us for this benefit auction and help us raise valuable funds that will support Ukrainians in desperate need of assistance.”
Tickets to come to the auction are $10, but Tusculum students are able to attend for free. Light hors d’oeuvres will be served. Payment for admission and auction items is by cash, check or card at the event.
Items that will be auctioned include 16 extraordinary paintings, 14 of which were created for the all-Ukrainian exhibition hosted in that country by Restore Ukraine in July 2023. The other two paintings were made by East Tennesseans who used their canvas to share their perspective of what has transpired in Ukraine. Each of these artworks offers a glimpse into the depths of the artists’ souls, profoundly affected by the war.
Some of the artists have sold pieces around the world, and their works have been included in exhibitions and auctions in multiple countries. The others are emerging artists who have already demonstrated considerable talent and have earned respect within the profession. The paintings span a variety of styles and reflect the artists’ testimony shaped by the war as well as the country’s heritage and hopes.
The other items up for bids will be five hand-painted T-shirts and three handmade rugs that Restore Ukraine also rescued from the battlefields to exhibit in East Tennessee.
The 16 paintings will be hung in the gallery Thursday, Feb. 22, and will be available for viewing in the week before the auction. There is no charge to visit the gallery, which is open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., during that seven-day period. The gallery is located inside Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Center.
Yaro said attendees will not have to pay several thousand dollars for the items at the auction. However, he said the paintings and other artwork are unique and have the power to deeply resonate with people on an emotional level.
“Our paintings are within a very accessible price range for the public,” he said. “People should expect to make bids in the three digits.
“All of the artistry that will be on display and available for bidding is incredibly moving and tells a story of a strong and brave country. These masterpieces will add beauty to one’s home or office and will deliver a message about the power and value of art in conveying the human experience. That is exceedingly important when one considers the plight of Ukrainians on all socioeconomic levels.”
More than 100 artists participated in the all-Ukraine exhibition about 30 miles from the frontline of the war. Restore Ukraine worked for months to obtain the 14 paintings that will be auctioned at Tusculum. At the auction, attendees will receive a booklet that describes the art and the artists in some detail, and Yaro will provide additional context.
Restore Ukraine is seeking to assist 100 households that need light and medium repairs. The organization’s intervention focuses on restoring the essential thermal envelope and preventing further damage to the structural components of homes. This initiative will empower Ukrainians to receive the most demanded reconstruction materials such as roofing, flooring, plumbing, electrical items, insulation and heating systems.
“This auction is a great opportunity for East Tennesseans to profoundly impact the quality of life of Ukrainians,” Yaro said. “It is also a marvelous way to maintain the richness of the Ukrainian cultural heritage that the citizens of our country hold dear. We are grateful to Tusculum and East Tennesseans who have fervently embraced our humanitarian cause and supported it financially.”
Since the Russian invasion, Restore Ukraine has provided more than 650,000 pounds of food, 198,000 pounds of personal hygiene products and 1.76 million pounds of construction materials. It has also rebuilt 59 apartments, renovated two bomb shelters and shipped six containers of winter clothes and medical supplies from the United States.
In all, Restore Ukraine has provided more than 2.7 million pounds of supplies to more than 50,000 Ukrainians since February 2022. It has continued to build its connections within the United States and has benefited from a fundraiser held in 2023 at Tusculum by the Greeneville Noon Rotary Club.