‘Lines’ lead to Russia

Sophomore’s art explores her home country’s beauty and darkness

Alli Wang, Opinion Editor

Varvara Levshakova/Special to the Bear Witness

Sophomore Varvara Levshakova, a native of Russia, sees her mother country’s duality. Her work, titled “Lines,” is one of 79 art pieces that’s been accepted into the New Museum Los Gatos exhibit, ArtNow 2022: Brave New Worlds.

Levshakova’s submission consists of a subway map of Moscow, with drawings of Russian architecture to symbolize Levshakova’s love for the beauty of Russia.

Behind the subway system is a collage of newspaper articles that describe some of many past occurrences of Russian journalists being fined, threatened, or put into jail, and university journalism students facing trials for writing truthful articles.

“I called my piece “Lines” because it’s like connecting everyone together. I love Russia and wish the best for my country, for my people,” she said. “But there’s much dispute and censorship in Russia and that saddens me.”

She sees the current war between Ukraine and Russia, and how its represented by state media, as another example of the Russian government’s suppression of Russian citizens’ right to free speech, press and activism. More importantly, the war is a clear example of Russia using its power to infringe on Ukrainian citizen’s rights.

“In Russia, citizens are getting ar- rested just for telling the truth,” she said. “Many of my relatives in Russia are not aware of how the government abuses its powers due to the Russian government’s mass propoganda.”

But she hopes to inform people that the Russian government’s actions are not reflective of the general Russian population’s stance on the war.

“War is horrible,” she said. “Some people don’t understand that the Russian government doesn’t represent its citizens. Although some parts of the government want the war, Russian citizens do not.”

Levshakova said she has seen much hate on Russian citizens on social media. Yet she said she found the animosity unjust as the Russian government has been using intense propaganda to censor the war from Russian citizens.

Levshakova said she felt angry at the Russian government’s actions but also scared for both Russian and Ukrainian citizens. She hoped to use her artwork to communicate her desire to “connect” her country back together.

“Many people in Russia aren’t even aware that there’s a war happening,” she said. “They don’t know how many people are dying. They don’t know that peaceful Ukrainian people are dying.”

While she said she’s “not trying to show any message to anyone,” she sees art as a creative outlet and plans to pursue her passion in art throughout high school.

“As an artist. It’s very satisfying to create art pieces about my thoughts and feelings,” she said. “When you create something and people notice it, it’s very fulfilling.”