Student serves Ukraine with love
Olenka Bodnarskyj, B.F.A. '97, as president of the UB Ukrainian Student Association (SA), accepted the Youth Achievement Award from the Children of Chernobyl Relief Fund (CCRF) at its September convention in East Hanover, New Jersey. The Ukrainian SA was honored for campus fund-raising on behalf of the national relief organization, and for raising campus awareness of the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, 65 miles north of Kiev. That accident was the worst in the history of nuclear power generation.
In 1996-97, the Ukrainian SA commemorated the 10th anniversary of Chernobyl with a series of events, including elaborate graphic and photo displays, many of them designed by Bodnarskyj, exhibited in the Student Union and throughout the University Libraries, as well as lectures and film screenings related to Chernobyl. The Ukrainian SA made a donation of $1,200 to Chernobyl relief efforts from proceeds of the Ukrainian National Dance Company's appearance at the Center for the Arts in February 1997.
Although her artwork is not focused exclusively on Chernobyl, Bodnarskyj would like to apply for a grant to develop art programs in Ukrainian hospitals and orphanages for victims of the accident.
"Initially, I did want to create a body of work on Chernobyl," she explains, "but I needed more input than could be obtained from just reading books, so that was the beginning. I am definitely going over there, however; I would like to give something back."
Born in the U.S., Bodnarskyj grew up in a Ukrainian household in Williamsville, N.Y. "Since childhood," she says, "my parents have immersed me in the Ukrainian community. I learned to speak the language fluently, attended Ukrainian school on Saturdays and participated in Ukrainian folk dance groups and in Ukrainian youth organizations." She studied printmaking at UB with art professor Harvey Breverman. Currently researching M.F.A. programs, she hopes to eventually discover her "niche" in the art world.