Jennifer Adanna Anorue is a Ukrainian artist, drawing teacher and model.
She is 24 years old and is currently studying Art History and Theory. Jennifer believes that art
should be used to raise awareness of and help resolve major concerns in our world.
27 November, 2022
Picture by Anna Bardakova
TOZHSAMIST’: What is your background? Where are your parents from?
Jennifer: I was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, which has long been a favourite among international students. One of them was my father, who is a Nigerian native. My mother is Ukrainian. Father has not lived in Ukraine for a long time since he works as a local town councillor in his home country.
Father's friends, whom I occasionally met as a child, highlighted I am Nigerian and of "royal" descent, which is true.
T: What is the identity for you?
J: For me, identity is all about taking control of life and realizing who you are as an individual, also as a citizen and professional.
T: Has your national identity been shaped?
J: My mother told me before the interview I often asked her: "Mom, am I Ukrainian?" when I was about five years old, and that this is how I became conscious of myself as a Ukrainian. To be connected with this culture, language, traditions, and history was crucial for me. I guess my ethnic background—African blood—only deepens my passion for the mystical Ukrainian folk culture and music that frequently give me inspiration. With today's dangers to Ukrainian culture, which is native to me, the identification is stronger than ever!
T: Favorite Ukrainian folk music?
J: I spent six months of my life listening to DakhaBrakha ( Ukrainian ethno-chaos group) on repeat. I hooked friends and family, we went to DakhaBrakha's concerts and listened to them in the car, in auditoriums, and at home. This is the music of incredible power! Think I feel it because I was involved in folk choreography and vocals as a child, and as an adult, I took folks singing classes.
Pictures by Anna Bardakova
T: What was it like growing up in Kharkiv?
As I said, Kharkiv is where I was born, and I remained there until I was 17 years old. I grew up in Saltivka. A large and peaceful residential area. It was like that until Russia came and now it is one of the damaged districts in the city.
In my childhood, I spent a lot of time outside and it was a healthy, ecological environment where children learned how to communicate, be active, and experience a wide range of emotions.
We played football, "Cossacks - robbers," hide and seek, and other outdoor activities with kids of all ages. Unfortunately, these games are not popular with children today, yet they are extremely valuable as a means of communication. In addition, I was involved in vocals, choreography, piano, and drawing. And how did I handle all of this?[laughing]
T: Most inspiring places in Kharkiv for you?
J: To be honest, what most people like in Kharkiv disgusts me. While most people like the city's cleanliness and tidiness, it always looked "plastic and artificial" to me. I adore Kharkiv's untamed, uncultivated areas, where it is still possible to "wander on the lawns."
T: We met you when you entered the National Academy of Visual Arts and Architecture. How did the academy influence you as an artist?
J: I moved to Kyiv because I was in a rebellious mood, you know. The National Academy of Visual Arts and Architecture looked to be an "adult" educational institution, despite the fact I had already been a student for four years. I graduated from Kharkiv Art School. I am currently in the second year of my master's degree program at the faculty of Art History and Theory.
I've had the good fortune to see many improvements at the Academy, one of which was the formation of the Formal Art Workshop. Working with my colleagues and teachers in this workshop has been the best thing that has happened during my studies!
Pictures by Jennifer
T: Tell us about your work "The cost of freedom"?
J: "The cost of freedom" is an installation that I presented at Dublin's EPIC Museum this summer.
This is the first time I've worked with objects outside of the canvas plane.
T: How "The cost of freedom" was born?
J: I have been working as a drawing teacher for children for 5 years. When I landed in Dublin, this was the first job I considered. So I gathered a group of kids, and one of the kid's mothers was Galyna Voloshina, the curator of the exhibition "The Cost of Freedom."
The exhibition was based on the photographs of "Ukrainska Pravda" reporters, however, there was not enough spatial work, such as an installation, to support the exhibition's concept. Galyna offered cooperation and I made the work as a result.
T: Will the work be exhibited in Ukraine?
J: I'm not sure an installation "The cost of freedom" needs to be presented in Ukraine. It was created to illustrate to foreigners what Ukrainians go through on a daily basis, how much pain they feel, the loss of loved ones, and the fight for their home and their freedom.
Pictures by Polina Iurchenko
T: Art experiments do you want to try in the near future?
J: I'm interested in conceptual art, which is defined by the idea that dominates the realization. I love reading concepts and wondering what an author tried to express since conceptual art does not appeal to emotional perception but rather to the intellectual interpretation of what is observed.
T: It reminds me quote from Bruno Munari: "As long as art stands aside from the problems of life it will only interest a very few people". Your thoughts?
J: Art may be used as a tool to bring attention to and assist resolve important concerns. So, "art independent of politics" does not exist for me. I think that art shouldn't only bring beauty to the world but also discuss its problems and shortcomings, as well as reflect on future changes. And I believe after witnessing art, the viewer can go and change the world for the better.
T: I know you are in Warsaw, Poland now. How is your life in Warsaw? What are you doing there?
J: Among European cities, this one has the most similarity to Kyiv! In terms of rhythm and mentality reminds me a lot of our capital. That's why I like Warsaw.
I study remotely and work as a drawing teacher for kids as I said before. And I work in the Fashion field, as a model. There you can get to know even more talented people! Also, I learn about Polish art, there are plenty of interesting artists and art projects.
T: What do you imagine Ukraine to be like after the victory?
J: After the victory, I wish Ukraine has a stronger and more united society, has its own development strategy and make it popular, and significant its own culture in world history.
I wish the country will be enticing to tourists and investors. I want the country to defeat its external enemies and will focus on internal issues.
Picture by Anna Bardakova
By Alice Zhuravel