The Daily Heller: A Drawing a Day for Ukraine

Posted inThe Daily Heller

Many artists are, to use the current argot, stakeholders in the invasion of Ukraine, and are expressing their feelings through various forms. This space has featured poster artists, designers and illustrators from Ukraine, as well as surrounding independent (and former Soviet) nations.

Recently, Connecticut-based artist Pamela Sztybel has been moved to publish a drawing a day on Instagram. She did a similar project during the first surge of COVID, too. This time, however, the drawings are raising money for World Central Kitchen through social media donations.

Sztybel’s grandmother was born in Kyiv and escaped to Poland during the Russian Revolution. Then, in September 1939, as the Nazis invaded Poland, her grandparents and her father had to escape again. “My grandfather was Jewish,” she says. “Also, my mother was born and raised in Finland—currently being threatened, as you know. I still have family in Finland. So aside from having global repercussions, this war is very personal.”

Sztybel is also working on a book trying to combine the drawings with memoir about her family’s refugee experience. Of her obsessively detailed visual narratives, she notes, “All my reference material comes from existing news stories but I frequently change things. I will add elements that aren’t taken from one specific photo.” Her drawings are caricatures, which allows a more unique viewpoint from the heartbreaking photos we see on a daily basis. “They aren’t meant to look like photographs,” but they are meant to trigger even more intimate responses.