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Ukrainian artist visits Newton

Newton residents meet sister city artist

Published: Friday, Sept. 22, 2017 10:21 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Sept. 22, 2017 10:37 a.m. CDT
(David Dolmage/Daily News)
Viktoriia Fil, an artist from Smila, Ukraine, Newton’s sister city, talks with OPEN board member Sveta Miller, right, during a reception for Fil at the CAA in Newton on Thursday.

Newton residents will have a little extra art in their lives for the next weeks thanks to a program sponsored by Newton’s OPEN program. OPEN, which is an acronym for Organization Promoting Everlasting Neighbors, has brought artist Viktoriia Fil from the Ukraine. During her visit to Newton, Fil will teach a number of different classes as she makes her way throughout the community.

OPEN board member Sveta Miller said the goal is to expose as many Newton residents as possible to Fil’s artwork. The artist will visit with Newton residents at the high school and middle schools, the Salvation Army, Progress Industries, Park Centre and even a local 4-H group.

“We want to try and catch people at different stages in their lives,” Miller said.

The goal of OPEN is to increase cultural awareness and expose Newton residents to new experiences. OPEN maintains a relationship with Smila, Newton’s sister city in the Ukraine, which is where Fil hails from. Miller hopes that as Fil participates in community events around Newton that residents will be spurred to learn more about other cultures.

“I hope that after they participate in these events they’ll find that even though we may differ we have a lot of similarities,” Miller said.

One of the projects Fil will work on during her visit is a community art piece. She plans to paint a Cardinal to represent Newton. On Thursday night Fil said she’s excited to visit Iowa and see Cardinals in their natural habitat, something she’d never seen before coming to Newton.

“It’s exciting to see all of the landscaping here, and finding out more about the trees and flowers that are native to Iowa,” Fil said.

Miller, a Ukrainian native, originally connected with Fil through her mother, who still has many contact in Ukraine, and after exchanging information on Facebook, Miller knew right away that they’d found the perfect artist to bring to Newton.

“She’s really talented and we’re really excited that we found her,” Miller said.

Painting is Fil’s primary medium, and her style is reminiscent of traditional Ukrainian craft and decorative arts. This type of work is less and less common in the Ukraine, and to learn her craft Fil has had to become anthropological archaeologist, meeting and working with older residents to learn these skills before they’re lost forever.

“I’m interested in preserving and exploring Ukrainian heritage,” Fil said.

Before Miller reacher out to her, Fil wasn’t aware of Smila’s sister city relationship with Newton, and she was surprised to learn that Iowans were interested in learning more about traditional Ukrainian design. She’s enjoying her visit to Newton so far, and she marvelled at the differences between Newton and Smila. While she’s here she also wants to learn more about American Indians, one of her favorite subjects. Miller said she’s excited to show Fil around Newton, and to renew the bonds of the sister city relationship.

“We want to keep bringing these culturally diverse events to Newton,” Miller said.

Sidebar: During her visit to Newton Fil will teach two painting classes at the Center for the Arts and Artists, located at 501 W 3rd Street N in Newton that are open to the public. The first class will be this Saturday at 1 p.m. with a subsequent class held next Thursday at 6 p.m., the cost for each class is $5. Space is limited and those interested are encouraged to contact CAA at (641)792-1391.

Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or ddolmage@newtondailynews.com

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