Interfaith Art Exhibition “Civilization of Love” and a seminar “Dialogue in Times of War”

Interfaith Art Exhibition and a Seminar in Rome

On February 18, 2023 seven Ukrainian artists — Myroslav Yasinskyi, Rustem Skybin, Yevgen Kotlyar, Violetta Terlyha, Vadym Koltun, Lyubov Yakimenko and Oleg Omelchenko— were represented at an interfaith art exhibition titled “Civilization of Love,” curated by JPII Leader Bogdana Katarzhuk (Cohort XIV, Ukraine). The event opened with a seminar, “Dialogue in Times of War,” in which three invited speakers, JPII Center leaders—Olena Komisarenko (Cohort XIV, Ukraine), Vladimer Narsia (Cohort XIV, Georgia), and Nataliia Pavlyk (Cohort XII, Ukraine)—were involved in a conversation around war, art, and interfaith dialogue. The seminar was moderated by Taras Dzyubanskyy, Senior Alumni Advisor to the JPII Center. The event was hosted at the Pontifical Ukrainian College of St. Josaphat and funded by the John Paul II Center Grants Program.“Civilization of Love” Interfaith Art Exhibition Opened with “Dialogue in Times of War” Seminar in RomeIn this seminar, Olena Komisarenko presented an intervention entitled “Interreligious and interconfessional collaboration in the times of war in Ukraine.” She shares an excerpt here: “To commemorate the meeting of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations with the Holy Father on January 25, 2023 in Rome, representatives of the council presented Pope Francis with a painting depicting peaceful Ukraine, painted by Ukrainian children. A piece of art in this situation was an expression of the spirit of true fraternal unity and the spirit of recognition of religious plurality in the society of peaceful Ukraine we are dreaming of, and we are praying for. ”

    Nataliia Pavlyk: “I was excited to share how art and creativity can contribute to inter- and intra-religious peacebuilding in times of war when other means of dialogue are not so efficient,” she expresses.

      Taras Dzyubanskyy: “The tragic anniversary of the full-scale war against Ukraine should remind Western society of the tragedy and grief of our people who, despite all the suffering, remain a people of freedom and resilience. Educational, cultural and social processes are continuing, and for this we owe much to the role of churches and religious organizations. Intellectual discussions continue and we are confident that this is a great contribution to the victory in the fight against the forces of evil.”

– This exhibition of Ukrainian artists from three different religions testifies to the soaring human spirit, even in the darkest times. Some of the artists daringly break traditional iconographic boundaries to express the solidarity – and hope – of inter-religious aspirations in a time of war.

Gavin D’Costa, Emeritus Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Bristol; Visiting Professor of Interreligious Dialogue, Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas, Rome   

      – Interreligious dialogue and comparative theology often choose textual analysis as their starting point- readers choose a Christian text, a non-Christian text, and then seek to highlight the points of contact and the differences between the two traditions. As our culture becomes increasingly visual, however, it is high time to experiment with different approaches for dialogue, and the visual arts provide one such framework. This exhibition and the interreligious coloring book show how the visual, artistic encounter between traditions opens up new horizons for interreligious understanding. 

Thomas Cattoi, Associate Professor of Christology and Cultures, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, USA (Visiting Professor at the Angelicum, Spring 2023)