Street artist JR recruited 100 local volunteers to take numerous photos of a 5-year-old refugee in Ukraine

by AryanArtnews
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Last week, French street artist JR traveled to Ukraine and invited local residents to a monumental public art event that included a portrait of a five-year-old refugee named Valeriia.

“This little girl is the future, and in this war, she reminds us what the Ukrainians are fighting for,” JR posted the image on Instagram, one of two upcoming covers. time Magazine.

Valeriia’s footage is the work of Ukrainian photographer Artem Iurchenko, who met a little girl and her mother at the Ukrainian border who had fled the country. The pair were from Krevelich, the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but are now safe in Poland.

“Leaving Ukraine was very hard, very hard…. We had to stand on the train to Lviv for 18 hours,” mother Taisiia told time. “I cannot express in words how grateful I am to all the people who have helped; I am in shock.”

At the urging of Kyiv-based artist Waone Interesni Kazki, JR’s project was quickly completed.

“He wrote me about a week ago. He said ‘JR, you need to post what’s going on here,'” JR recalled on Instagram. “I said, ‘I don’t know what to retweet, so why don’t we try to do something?'”

To convey the Ukrainian gritty spirit to the world, JR printed a 148-foot-tall version of a photo of Valeriia on a giant tarp in his Paris studio.

The artist then began experimenting with arranging trips to the war-torn country, documenting the journey and transportation of the legendary photo on his Instagram story.

After entering the country, JR used an overhead drone to film the unfolding of Valeria’s portrait outside the State Opera House in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, near the Polish border. A staff of more than 100 Ukrainian volunteers was on hand to help display the piece.

“Your smile lights up the world,” JR told Valeriia in a video chat, an interaction he shared on Instagram Stories.

“It’s weird,” JR added of life in Lviv. “There are sirens every morning here, people have to go into bunkers, and there is a most normal life every day.”

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