The recent show in the First Parish Church gallery “Affirmation of Life, Art from Today’s Ukraine” had a surprise visitor on a recent Sunday evening.
The 2022 Noble Peace Prize winner and human rights activist, Sasha Romantsova, made a visit to the show that features art created by Ukrainian artists living and working there despite their country being under attack.
Sasha is the Executive Director of the Ukrainian-based Center for Civil Liberties in Kyiv, Ukraine. Curators of the art show, Vlad Shapiro and Nataliya Proskura, local Bedford residents, are friends of Romantsova and invited her to come and see the exhibit while she was visiting in the Boston area.
Romantsova stayed for more than an hour and half, talking about the war in Ukraine and describing the work she and her group have been doing documenting and investigating cases of war crimes. Since the invasion of Russia, her group has registered more than 33,000 potential violations which include war crimes, crimes against humanity, as well as crimes of aggression and genocide.
She was stunned when she received the phone call from the Nobel Peace Prize committee and learned that she was to receive their prize. At first, she thought it must be a joke, but to her relief, it was not. She was receiving recognition for her group’s outstanding documentation of the war crimes that are being committed in her beloved country.
As Ellen Scheiner, one of the planners of the exhibit, said at the end of the evening, “It was quite an honor” to be with Sasha and hear about her work.