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Maryna Lukach – Textile Artist and Sister Saint in Kyiv, Ukraine

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

Ukraine Temple textile art by Maryna Lukach

Maryna Lukach: Textile Artist and Sister Saint in Kyiv, Ukraine

interviewed via internet by Linda Hoffman Kimball, Segullah Art Director

Segullah: I believe God guided me to you and your fabulous artwork, Maryna. Besides rejoicing in your bountiful talents, we also pray for you and your fellow Ukrainian citizens that this war will end soon and that your many griefs will be consoled.

Maryna Lukach, Ukrainian artist and sister saint

Maryna: Thank you for your participation in helping the Ukrainian people. The help of the international community is invaluable! Thanks for the prayers and donations! Thank you for your personal desire to help!

Segullah: What is life like for you right now? I am so sorry that you face these circumstances!

Maryna: We live in my workshop, but it has its advantages. I’m surrounded with the work I love and textile creativity.

Maryna in her workshop

We hear explosions every day. Sometimes we hide in an unfinished house next to the workshop. We’re full of hope that it will all be over soon. Our family volunteers. We help people with medicines, food, water, and other necessities.

Segullah: How can Segullah readers support your country?

Maryna: People who want to support us and our efforts to help others can buy my digital postcards from my Etsy store. As of today, this is the most convenient and easy option. My original textile artworks can also be purchased on Etsy. I also have a Facebook account in my name.

An important note: Now the expected delivery times to the USA have increased.

Segullah: Thank you. There are many well-vetted relief agencies. Three of them are Ukraine Relief Fund through CARE , World Central Kitchen, and Lifting Hands International. Supporting your local efforts, Maryna, now provides a personal connection and something we can visualize.

textile art by Maryna Kukach

Segullah: How did you learn about the Church?

Maryna: This is an interesting story. My husband was looking for a personal driver to his office. We were not yet members of the Church then. In the same city, there lived a man who wanted to find a job as a driver with his car. But they had a broken phone line, and he couldn’t get calls for his ad in the newspaper that he was looking for a driver’s job.

At this time, the husband’s secretary continued to search for the driver. An important condition of my husband was that the driver did not drink or smoke. For some time he could not find a suitable candidate. On the secretary’s piece of paper, it was marked with a tick that there is a suitable driver, but his phone wasn’t working. After a couple of weeks, the secretary again dialed the number of this person. This time he answered, came for an interview, and got hired.

When my husband returned from work, he said, “It’s strange, but I hired some priest.”

LDS Temple – textile art by Maryna Lukach

It turned out that the man was the bishop of a branch in Odesa, Ukraine. He had the Book of Mormon and invitations to free English classes in his car. Our daughter was learning English at that time, and it was important for her to communicate with native speakers. This is how she became acquainted with the Church.

Soon she was baptized. A year later, I was baptized, then my husband and mother-in-law. Then my daughter went on a mission. She was called to Temple Square in Salt Lake City in 2000. Now my daughter and two granddaughters live in Farmington, Utah. My sister lives in Chicago with her family.

Maryna Lukach’s textile art detail

I was in America four times visiting my family. Our son and his wife live in Ukraine. My son served a mission in Ukraine. It is so touching that you write about what is happening in your heart because of the events in our country. We feel the support of different people so much! This is a priceless and overwhelming experience of love between people who don’t even know each other. This is the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the Prophet Thomas Monson consecrated the Kyiv Ukrainian Temple in 2010, he said in his prayer that Ukraine would become one of the most prosperous countries in the world. And we know that all the words of the Lord will come true. Ukraine pays a high price for its freedom, and we see how the Lord helps us through the combined help of the whole world. With love and gratitude to everyone who extended a helping hand and whose hearts pray for Ukraine!

photograph of the Ukraine Temple

Segullah: In March Putin’s army bombed a theater that was clearly indicated as having children inside.

Maryna: Mariupol is being heavily bombed. Yes, they destroyed the theater where people were hiding. Mariupol is a very important port city, and the invaders want to take it. There is great tragedy in Mariupol. But the city does not give up. All houses have been destroyed. Many people have been evacuated, but there are still many in the basements. There are endless tears…

Segullah: Is your husband with you, or has he been called to the army?

Maryan: My husband is not in the army. He is 63 years old. The army takes up to 60 years. But we help the local army. My son lives in another city. By law, he is on the list of the 4th wave of conscription. And he also helps the army as a volunteer. Now professional soldiers and soldiers of the 1st wave of conscription are fighting in the army. There are 300 thousand people in line for weapons.

We have enough armies on earth. We don’t have enough planes in the air. And Russia has a lot of planes, and they destroy from the sky. That’s why we’ve been asking America for so long to help us close the sky.

It was calmer near Kyiv yesterday, but today there are fights again. We have food and water and medicine. We have reserves by the Lord’s advice.  And yesterday the government made a statement that Ukraine has a 2-year supply for the entire country. I hope the war ends soon.

Linda: As our featured artist for Segullah, Maryna, can you tell us about your artistic background and education?

Maryna: When I was in school, I took sewing courses.

I have always worked with images. I am a theater director. I worked as director of a film crew in cinematography. Then I had my own photo studio. I worked as a photo-artist for 10 years.

Linda: When did you begin creating your textile art?

Maryna: In 2014, during the Maidan Revolution, we helped a lot as volunteers to the wounded and the families of the victims. During this period I sewed my first textile picture. I still can’t fully explain why it happened.

Maryna’s first textile painting “The Price of Freedom of Ukraine”, 2014

Segullah: What do you remember of the 2014 Maidan Revolution?

Images with Maryan Lukach during the Maidan Revolution, Kyiv, Ukraine, 2014

Maryna: When there were battles in the center of the capital of Ukraine in 2014, I collected artifacts: shell casings, pieces of burnt tires, pieces of paving stones, and ribbons with the symbols of the European Union. And then I decided to combine these artifacts into a picture for memory. My first textile painting “The Price of Freedom of Ukraine” appeared in 2014. Since then, I have been sewing almost every day.

I often think about one particular day from all the days of the conflict in Kyiv’s central square, Maidan, 2014. This day strongly reminds me of Salvador Dali’s paintings. I was in the square which was divided into several areas. Each seemed as though they were united yet so different. The very center of the city was blanketed with black, gray, and white smoke, while bright flashes from Molotov cocktails sparkled within the vapor. It makes me a little uncomfortable to say it, but from the perspective of one who appreciates filmmaking, it looked beautiful! The dynamics and colors of the scene were very tantalizing to the point of feeling surreal.

Detail of Maryna’s meticulous hand sewing.

I heard the voice of a man resound from speakers, standing on a stage just a few meters from the battlefield, tightly holding his microphone in his hands. He was commenting on the battle, calling for people to bolster the defending ranks and instructing how to correctly write down your personal information upon your hands so that your body could be identified.

Not far from the epicenter of the battle, only few meters really, there were a crowd of young people preparing Molotov cocktails, with a little puppy next to them wagging his tail. (Now I know of an unpleasant way to use Styrofoam.)

Near the field hospital was a towering pile of medications. We asked them what medications they needed at that time. A surgeon came out and yelled in my face, “We need narcotics! They have cracked skulls and they are holding their own guts in their hands! We need narcotics! Look at this pointless pile of medications, worthless!”

That “pointless pile of medication” had been brought by hundreds of people with kind hearts. They spent all they had for things that they thought were needed. But at that moment those medications were just a pile of senselessness. Of course later on that pile of medications was needed for other minor injuries, but if all those kind hearts would have combined their proverbial mites and obtained only a couple of expensive vials there would have been more survivors on that treacherous day.

A few more meters away, a man was eating his shawarma and said to me, “Careful. Hide! The snipers are shooting.” Immediately I hid behind a makeshift canvas tent and I saw eight bodies of fallen Maidaners. Their comrades knew that they were not cold anymore but still cover their lifeless bodies with blankets. At the same moment, a man’s voice was yelling from the top of his lungs lamenting the battle.

I left the square and went to the drug store to purchase supplies.

The pharmacist asked, “Is it for over there?”

“Yes. It’s for over there,” I answered.

He quickly went to the storage room in the back and brought the kind of medication you can’t get over the counter.

Textile art by Maryna Lukach

When I returned the riot squads had been repelled from the square. They fled leaving several tens of their fellows to barricade a roadway near Maidan, each of them covered with the shields. I could see them from a distance, menacingly holding their metal shields. I crept up a little closer and saw that each of them was stilled like statues, yet they had the countenance of a pathetic force. Within the square, Maidaners who defended their borders politely let me pick through a hole in the wooden bulwark to grab debris from the battle.

That night as I was leaving I noticed a young boy in pink sneakers and a funny bauble on the back pocket of his jeans. Then I saw a man in glasses talking on the phone. Neither of them looked like warriors. They seemed to be more like superintendents or miners, yet they were warriors in their own right. They were calm, manly, and immovable.

There was no bustle within Maidan. Those men had become competent defenders. After the battle there flowed masses of people from every direction with bags, boxes, and jars full of supplies. An endless stream of cars brought food, water, medications, gas, and tires. Thousands of people united against this atrocity.

My family did not do very much for the victory; we did what we could possibly do. And everyone did just that – laid the foundation to the unity of the country and the beginning of our victory.

Unity is true power. I know that our Heavenly Father gives the best places in His Kingdom to those fallen defenders of liberty. I pray that their families will have the strength to overcome their losses, and for peace to speedily come, so our soldiers can return home. The events at Maidan burst our country’s political abscess. Ukraine is now in a period of cleansing. Glory to them, the Heavenly Hundred!

“He Inviteth All to Come to Him and Partake of His Goodness” by Maryan Lukach, textile artist

Segullah: On March 28, 2022, I visited the Church’s International Art Competition Exhibit in the Museum of History and Art in Salt Lake City and saw your beautiful textile piece “He Invited All to Come unto Him and Partake of His Goodness”. It is breathtaking! The details are exquisite (and online photos don’t do it justice). I love that in the varied house images near the bottom the invitation of the artwork’s title is recorded in many languages. I love the glorious Tree of Life. I love the potent detail of the tiny french knots in red thread in the center of both of Christ’s hands. I especially enjoyed the “next-best-thing-to-being-with-you” experience of standing next to the work of your talented hands.

Linda Hoffman Kimball next to Maryna Lukach’s “He Inviteth All to Come unto Him and Partake of His Goodness.” Salt Lake City, Church Museum of History and Art.

Segullah: What does attending Church like for you now with the current war going on?

Maryna: We have sacrament meetings in Ukraine through Zoom. The temple is closed.

Linda: I’m impressed that you still have internet connections!

Maryna: Yes, it’s a miracle for us now! Elon Musk opened Starlink terminals for Ukraine. This is a big help!

Linda: God moves in mysterious ways. I’m sure God’s hand is in our connection! We will be praying for you and your country.

 Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.

Alma 43:45

Detail of “He Inviteth All to Come unto Him and Partake of His Goodness” by Maryna Lukach

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About Linda Hoffman Kimball

Linda Hoffman Kimball is an artist, writer, photographer, and poet who grew up as a faithful Christian near Chicago, & joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1971 while at Wellesley College near Boston. Early on she assumed that all Latter-day Saints were articulate, inquisitive, faithful, and socially engaged since her role models in the University wards in Cambridge, MA., were. Her husband says she is “fluent, but not native” in Mormon-ese. She is a founding member of Mormon Women for Ethical Government.

5 thoughts on “Maryna Lukach – Textile Artist and Sister Saint in Kyiv, Ukraine”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this, Linda and Maryna. Maryna is clearly a warrior for Christ and for freedom and I love that art can contribute to peace. Also most valuable is the personal connection created by exchanges such as this. I have strong, beautiful memories of my short stay in Kyiv. We are all one family. Praying for peace . . .

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  2. I am trying to find words for this artwork. It moves me right in the center of my chest. I am stunned by the detail, the color, the choice and voice of the beads, embroidery, fabric. How does she make the choices of what to use and how do they speak so vibrantly? It is glorious.

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