Young artists from East Texas are sending a message of hope to Ukrainian refugees a world away.
Students of the Tyler Art School, a private studio located in southeast Tyler, have created artwork that reflects their concern for the millions of Ukrainian children forced to flee their homes due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The creative works of about 50 students, ages 7 to 16, are now on display in a public showing at the Tyler Rose Garden Center.
The display, titled ‘Every Sunflower is a Wish For Peace,’ features original paintings, collages, and sketches. Creations resemble Ukraine’s national flower, the sunflower, which has also become a symbol for resistance. The works also depict doves, hearts, and phrases calling for peace.
Linda Wheat, director of the Tyler Art School, says the project was created with one of Tyler’s sister cities in mind.
Jelenia Góra, located 5,300 miles from East Texas, in western Poland, is currently sheltering hundreds of refugees from Ukraine. Tyler has maintained the sister city relationship for almost three decades.
In May, the city of Tyler wired $30 thousand in private contributions to assist with humanitarian relief efforts in Jelenia Góra.
Wheat is no stranger to being forced to flee her home. In 2005, she was forced to evacuate her family from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Wheat later relocated to Tyler and taught for several year before retiring from All Saints Episcopal School.
In early April, her 50 students, ages 7 to 16, began working on their final art project of the school year, which was dedicated to the displaced children of the war in Ukraine. Wheat says some even prayed while working on their individual creations.
The project will remain on display inside the Rose Garden Center until mid-August.
Wheat says she hopes Tyler’s sister city relationship with Jelenia Góra could create opportunities for her students to communicate with Ukrainian children in Poland.
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