A view of Polotsk, Belarus

A wonderful collaboration between two worlds, Belarus and America: the collaborative student project hailed from Polotsk State University in Belarus and Northern Virginia Community College’s Graphic Design and Fine Arts Departments, Alexandria campus.

The interdisciplinary collaboration was organized by NOVA’s Fine Arts department’s Stacy Slaten and Graphic Design’s Lisa Hill in conjunction with senior lecturer Elana Khramstsova, and professors Larisa Zhiznevskaya, Olga Kovshink and Ekaterina Chbotareva of the Department of World Literature and Foreign Languages

The Polotsk students wrote essays and provided photographs to highlight the Polotsk area and history. Although our Fine Art painters drew their inspiration from the visuals sent, the Graphic Design Department also used the original written narratives.

Svetlana Vegera, First Vice-Rector of Polotsk State University, greatly appreciated the collaboration, and sent the following message to Dean McClellen of LASS Alexandria:

“Dear Jim,
I would like to express my excitement and thank you, your staff, and students for a great collaboration and excellent results of the project between our institutions. I’m filled with admiration for the illustrations your students made. The pictures are really stunning and you may rest assured that there will be a gallery of these works at Polotsk State University.
Our students had a great time and it was unbelievable experience for all of them. What is more, now they are so inspired that cannot wait to have another project. I hope that together we will introduce new projects and enhance our relationship. And of course, we are always open to your ideas.”

We begin with the wonderful Illustrations from our NOVA Graphic Design Department students. 

Illustrated by Victoria Fraser. Narrative by Andrei Zakharov and photographed by Vlad Baranov of Polotsk State University.

NARRATIVE: ANDREI ZAKHAROV POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : VICTORIA FRASER
NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

PHOTOGRAPHER : VLAD BARANOV
POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

The city skyline silhouette is characterized by bright onion-domed churches, Christian spires, shining crosses, impressive towers, and peaked red roofs poking out among the trees. In fact, churches largely define the landscape of Vitebsk. The architecture of churches follows the Byzantine traditions but has its own distinctive features that are unique to Eastern Europe. First of all, these are bow-shaped or helmet-shaped domes. Such domes resemble an onion or an old Slavic helmet (both have a rounded shape, but a pointed top).

Illustrated by Yolanda Green, Narrative by Valeria Grigogieva of Polotsk State University.

NARRATIVE : VALERIA GRIGOGIEVA POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR: YOLANDA GREEN
NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“The metropolitan hub of interlocking streets and squares, located in the area where the Vitba River joins the majestic Dvina, is known as the historic center or “big side” of Vitebsk. In the 1900s this area was always busy with shoppers, travellers, carriages in summer, and horse-drawn sleigs in winter, and even the first trams.”

Illustrated by Yolanda Green. Narrative by Valeria Grigogieva of Polotsk State University.

NARRATIVE : ALEKSANDRA GABRINOVICH POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : KATHERINE STANLEY NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“And under the rowan yellow dahlias, fleshy agrimony, impassable nettle and other grass were growing tightly.  Here and there, like in all waterlogged places, celandine poked out its stalks, rosehip bushes and nightshade were going up wildly. And among that diversity of grass there were trees brunches, clumsy and white because of mold, broken by the wind and lying on dark raw ground.

And on the damp black ground among the grass there lay moldy white, apparently broken by the wind, gnarled branches of trees.”

Illustrated by Tsegereda (Emu) Getachew. Narrative by Valentin Ishchenko of Polotsk State University.

NARRATIVE : VALENTIN ISHCHENKO POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : TSEGEREDA (EMU) GETACHEW NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“The Second World War inflicted a devastating cultural toll on Polack. Some buildings were lucky enough to save their foundations and walls, but about 80 % of the city was razed to the ground. Now the surviving historical sites have been restored and to me they are as evocative echoes of the past, telling the enchanting stories of their times.”

Illustrated by Jeesoo Yang. Narrative by Valeria Lankina of Polotsk State University..

NARRATIVE : VALERIA LANKINA
POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : JEESOO YANG
NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“Mother, look, do you see that sunset? Doesn’t it look like a huge fire burning? Maybe the whole land will go up in flames, too. Mother, dearest, war is sure to break out soon. I’ll have to go to the front and you and Maryśka will be left alone.” (Text is taken from a book by Vasil Bykaŭ)

Illustrated by Destin Gurwell. Narrative by Anasstasiya Gerasimova of Polotsk State University..

NARRATIVE : ANASTASIYA GERASIMOVA POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : DESTIN GURWELL
NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“A true sign of spring in Belarus is considered to be the lilac. Girls like making bunches of the flowers and putting them in their rooms because of its wonderful smell. There
is even a superstition connected with the lilac: if you find a five-petal flower, you will have good luck.”

Illustrated by Glenn Mahaney. Narrative by Anhlika Traplovskaya of Polotsk State University..

NARRATIVE : ANHELIKA TRAPLOVSKAYA POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : GLENN MAHANEY
NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“Travelers come here not only for this, but also to make a wish and ask Tsar Oak to help in a particular business. People tie ribbons on the branches of a tree, which means that they will return to this place again.”

Illustrated by Kerry Britton of Northern Virginia Community College. Narrative by Anna Turukina of Polotsk State University.

NARRATIVE : ANNA TURUKINA
POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : KERRY BRITTON
NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“Those who travel to Belarus from northern areas can see large villages looking more like settlements, white stone churches and stone manor houses, vast sown fields, clumps of pine or birch trees.”

Illustrated by Kerry Britton. Narrative by Anna Turukina of Polotsk State University.

NARRATIVE : ANNA TURUKINA
POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : MATTHEW WELBORN
NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“Those who travel to Belarus from northern areas can see large villages …, vast sown fields, clumps of pine or birch trees. … Perhaps, in the shadow of the rustling pine trees there rests a knight, whose name was forgotten long time ago. I have often heard stories of ordinary people about wars of the past. However, so many tales and miracles mingled with them that there is only a faint trace of the past left, with no real names of the characters.”

Illustrated by Sukhmeet Dhingra. Narrative by Alexandria Iasurkina of Polotsk State University.

NARRATIVE : Alexandria Iazurkina POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : Sukhmeet Dhingra
NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“The forest is full of noises, and beneath your feet the leaves rustle. The leaves of a beautiful birch tree lay scattered around it in the shape of a remarkable fan, shining like tiny gold coins on grass still green. How they glisten, those little leaves! Really and truly just like little golden coins. They do not resemble at all their sisters in the fields, in the ruts: those are blackened, crumpled and twisted, while these, as you look at them, make your eyes burn.
The leaves of the oaks make a soft, dark-brown bed under their parent trees, for these leaves are too heavy to fly far. Even when it is windy they fall almost vertically, except

Illustrated by Lexi Moylan. Narrative by Egor Khodor of Polotsk State University.

NARRATIVE : EGOR KHODOR
POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : LEXI MOYLAN
NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“Over the course of its long history, the cathedral was repeatedly rebuilt, destroyed and reborn again.”

NARRATIVE : TANIA FIRSOVA
POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : BRODIE LIPPERT
NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“The reason why the location was chosen is that the place promotes creativity and inspiration. The slopes of the ravine seem to protect the mystery of music from the urban bustle.”

NARRATIVE : ALEKSANDRA GABRINOVICH POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : KYLE ANTIS
NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“Here and there, like in all waterlogged places, celandine poked out its stalks, rosehip bushes and nightshade were going up wildly. And among that diversity of grass there were trees brunches, clumsy and white because of mold, broken by the wind and lying on dark raw ground.
And on the damp black ground among the grass there lay moldy white, apparently broken by the wind, gnarled branches of trees.”

Illustrated by Kyle Antis. Narrative by Aleksandra Gabrinovich of Polotsk State University.

Illustrated by Rosa Lane. Narrative by Nastya Gorbatova of Polotsk State University.

NARRATIVE : Nastya Gorbatova
POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : Rosa Lane
NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“It was a warm winter with a little snow, not at all like last year. The park was empty, almost no one walked in it. That is why it was filled with silence.”

Illustrated by Rosa Lane. Narrative by Nastya Gorbatova of Polotsk State University.

NARRATIVE : Nastya Gorbatova
POLOTSK STATE UNIVERSITY

ILLUSTRATOR : Rosa Lane
NOVA, NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“It was a warm winter with a little snow, not at all like last year. The park was empty, almost no one walked in it. That is why it was filled with silence.”

Illustrated by Xavier Camacho. Narrative by Valeria Lankina of Polotsk State University.

Our NOVA Fine Art department worked from photographs for paintings, to capture the beauty of both the city and the landscape.

Two of our painters worked from photographs of Polostsk student Valentin Ishchenko, who photographed St. Sophia, an historic church built between 1044 and 1066.

Susan Warren took up the challenge of working with St. Sophia Cathedral, writing, “The photo that first captured my attention; a cold gloomy day with just a hint of spring on the way.” She effuses, The location is perfect; isolated away from crowds, surrounded by trees, so that on a cold dreary day (still snow on the ground) the church would provide a warm place to escape from the bitterness of the winter.  And spring (the buds on the trees framing the church) is a renewal of life, with many people considering this time to be a renewal of their faith – how best to express this thought, if not through the image of a magnificent church.

by Susan Warren

The painting is 24X18 acrylic on canvas.  It was painted using the transparent acrylic technique.  White paint is not used; the canvas substitutes for white.  Acrylic paint is watered down substantially and multiple layers of paint are applied on top of each other to build up the color…”

Hayley Stillings took on the visualization of St. Sophia Cathedral, with a wonderfully transparent glazed technique.

By Hayley Stillings

Other landmark buildings there were also a source of inspiration.

The Polostsk Fire Station, By Tess Molina
Downtown Polotsk by Elizabeth Noguchi
Polotsk’s natural landscape was the inspiration for the rest of our art students.  The beauty of winter sets the scene for some of the photographs sent.
Photo by Alexandria Iazurkina
Photograph by Alexandria Iazurkina.  Painting by Anna Odarich Anderson

Taylor Foster was also lured by the cold and quiet atmosphere of the images that were sent.  “I wanted feeling to be cold yet warm to people viewing it..,” she explains, “I only worked on this when I was calm and collected. That way, my tone would be portrayed onto the canvas. It was created with watered down acrylic on a 12 x 18 canvas.

By Alexis Foster.
From a photograph by Valeria Lankina. Painting by Sam Mooney
Photo by Angelika Traplovskaya, painting by Mustafa Mohammed.
By Na Lin.
By Siemon Briosos.
By Maria Lacruz.
Photo by Viivika Traplovskaya.  Painting by Thuy Nguyen
“I want to thank everyone from Polotsk University: the faculty, staff and especially the students, for all their work in bringing this joint artistic project to fruition. Joining two worlds, so far apart and yet so close together, the students ideas, creativity and work are exceptional. They all had a wonderful experience working together which broadened all our horizons.  We are hoping for continued synergistic projects in the future and getting to know more of the hearts and minds of those in Belarus. ” – Stacy Slaten

 

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