Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Telling Crimea’s Story Through Children’s Books

I listen to the news, and read articles, and try to stay open-minded but I honestly do not understand the scale and complexity of the issues facing Crimea and the Ukraine. This author, Lily Hyde, is doing something pretty clever about it – instead of turning to long treatises or historical non-fiction, she’s crafting stories through the lens of myth and folklore. What a beautiful way of illuminating the history and multi-layered ethnography of the region! Her books have been published in multiple languages, and often feature figures from Easter European myth (i.e. Baba Yaga, who if you have not looked up, here, you’re welcome). It’s way of using art and story telling to create context for something that seems unapproachable. Sign me up, please!


5 comments on “Telling Crimea’s Story Through Children’s Books

  1. shrulala
    August 29, 2014

    This sounds very interesting. My 9 year has been asking me questions about Ukraine. I think I will get some Lily Hyde’s book for her. They have read versions of Baba Yaga which I love btw!! The beauty of a true artist is to juxtapose the real with the unreal and make it relevant to you!

  2. Samantha Sobash
    August 29, 2014

    I really appreciate the way Lily Hyde uses her art form to share the truths of unapproachable issues in a sensitive manner. It seems through folklore she has found great means to share her firsthand experience in Crimea. I just read this fascinating article about Ashtar Theater on the West Bank; through writing, directing and performing plays, student actors are able to “live their age” while outwardly addressing the Occupation and Israeli attacks on Gaza through their art form.

    A student of the theater, Rana Burqan said: “We can’t rely on international media to tell our story as it truly is”. The theater arranges an annual festival to connect Palestinians to each other across physical borders even while they are not permitted to meet in person. This is an incredible portrayal of cultural and self identification, where art facilitates a deeper understanding of intercultural relations.

  3. awellfare89
    August 29, 2014

    Isn’t it funny how we respond to fiction’s explanation of things better than news headlines? I wouldn’t mind glancing at her novels to become more familiar with the region’s history either. I completely agree, the whole subject is still slightly confusing to me and constantly have to remind myself of Samantha’s mention of the quote regarding the truth in international media. Thankfully there are artists that can communicate such happenings through their art forms.

    The role art plays as a way of expression and communication during conflict reminds me of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovitch. Shostakovitch used melodic signatures – basically spelling his name and others’ in the music – to rebel against Russia’s control over what kind of music was to be created. His fascinating life and a touch of explanation about his musical code can be read here:

  4. sarasps85
    August 31, 2014

    It is very interesting how it is possible to explain and understand reality through different artistic languages. The post and the comments made me think of a person I met long time ago that was doing research on animated documentary. This variation of documentary film is often used to bring your attention to more sensitive subjects like rape, death, slavery etc… What I find interesting is that the impact of such approaches are often higher than real media images or testimonials. I think these make you think more about the problems and the other ask for an immediate sensational reaction. The well known “Waltz with Bashir” by Ari Folman is an animated film but illustrates well the issue. Other examples and more information can be found here:

    or here

  5. emkais
    September 1, 2014

    I love the weaving of art, storytelling, cultural folklore in this post. This is such a clever way to garner attention and inform masses about important issues, and also take a chance at forming the future. I think the visual aspect, the sense of place, and childhood familiarity go such great lengths to advance a topic, secure attention, and teach a lesson. I occasionally joke that I fell in love with my undergraduate art history courses because it was like regular history courses with pictures. I can see these books as being tools for forming young minds towards being receptive to these important topics.

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