DANSVILLE — It is not often you get a glimpse into another culture, but the community had a chance to create Ukrainian art.
Anastasiya “Nastya” Vyshnevska, 15, of the Ukraine is a foreign exchange student at Dansville Central, and during the First Friday at Dansville ArtWorks on Nov. 3, members of the community learned about Ukrainian art and painted bookmarks.
In the Ukraine young girls start doing the beautiful detailed art of petrykivka in fifth grade. Vyshnevska said in her culture they call it writing a picture. They are called writers in the art world not painters.
“To learn how to paint in this style is not easy,” Vyshnevska said. An important aspect of this style of art is that you can only paint the lines once; one cannot go back over a line or color once it is painted. “You need to put in a lot of depth. We use bright colors for the flowers and birds. It is about bringing happiness to people. We all paint differently, because we have different personalities. We are all unique.”
Dansville ArtWorks Board President, Nicole Alioto, said by having Vyshnevska share her art it encourages people to talk about other cultures.
“She will be doing presentations like this around town throughout the year,” she said. “Part of the program is to encourage talk about other cultures and art.”
Part of the Ukrainian art culture is to put your own feelings and personality into the artwork.
“We are known for our eggs,” Vyshnevska said. “All of our eggs have a specific meaning. You put your own energy and meaning into the egg.”
Another form of Ukrainian art is Motanka Dolls, which are made out of cloth.
“Hundreds of years ago there were no plastic dolls,” Vyshnevska said. “We rolled clothes in the shape of a doll. Each of our dolls means different things.”
All of the clothes are handmade and embroidered.
“Every girl in the Ukraine needs to know how to make clothes,” Vyshnevska said. “We have all of our old roots and history. We need to save our culture, and share it with other countries. We are proud to wear our clothes and make our art.”
According to the Greenheart Exhange website, the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program "provides an opportunity for students to gain leadership experience, learn about American society, and foster mutual understanding across cultures."
Vyshnevska looked forward to coming to the United States for new leadership experiences and to learn about charitable organizations and American government.
“This is the biggest chance of my life,” she said. “I wanted to come here to show what we do in Ukraine. It gives me a chance to share my culture.”
Although the FLEX program is only one school-year, Vyshnevska plans on coming back here for college perhaps at SUNY Geneseo or Cornell University to study physics.
One of Vyshnevska’s favorite things to do in Dansville is hiking in the hills with her host family (Superintendent Paul Alioto.)
“In my hometown there are no hills,” she said. “Once my family and I went on vacation in the mountains [in Ukraine] and I loved it. My favorite thing is nature.”
Vyshnevska’s hometown is smaller than Dansville. There are no school buses there, so the children walk or take public buses.
Alioto said they plan on taking Vyshnevska to visit various sites and cities, like Niagara Falls and New York City. Vyshnevska said there are more opportunities and choices for students in the United States like art and photography. She also enjoys playing soccer and volunteering at Dansville ArtWorks and other area organizations. Alioto said this is their first time being a host family and they are pleased to have her with them.
“It is great. We are very lucky to have Nastya,” she said. “We are learning a lot about Ukraine. We are doing Ukrainian cooking and have made cheese five times.”
Dansville ArtWorks also opened the Winter Exhibit which will be on display from Nov. 3 until Dec. 23. The featured artists are; Nicole Alioto, Mandi Antonucci, Ron Cook, Samantha Davis, Bernie Dick, Sarah Smith, Dick Thomas, and Jasmine Willis.
Dansville ArtWorks is located at 153 Main Street. The hours are Thursday from noon to 6 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.