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Kozenyuk Sofia 


How did you experience war in 2014? What do you remember from that? How old were you? How did 2014-2015 go for you?
Please tell this story in detail.

My story begins in the small town of Kostiantynivka in Donetsk region. I was born and raised there. Today it is still Ukraine, but this city is in that part of the country where the residents do not know our language at all and watch russian TV channels. In 2014 (the city was under the occupation of pro-Russian militants from April 28, 2014 to July 5, 2014, — ed.) when I was 17, I saw how in my city children were shot down with armored personnel carriers, and schools were turned into military units. Russian mercenaries raped girls. There was a curfew in the evening. From a young age, I saw the cruelty of wartime, the death of people and the destruction of my native city. At the same time, thanks to TV channels, residents still think that those who speak Russian are mocked in Lviv or Kyiv.
It was always easy for me to express my emotions on canvas. In art, I poured out my soul and maintained communication with the world. Days long I dreamed of studying at an art academy.
However, my childhood dream was cruelly crushed under the outdated views of my parents, just like my native land underthe  war missiles: "You can't make money from art... You will be in poverty all your life..."
Against my desires, my first education was in economics. My parents wanted to give me a "normal" profession. During 4 years of technical school, I distracted myself from economics with psychology as much as I could and went to philosophical tournaments. At the same time, I obtained a degree in psychology. And ran to the art school after studying until late in the evening. I have won all kinds of competitions, as evidenced by a small pile of various diplomas and awards.
I remember this ruin, this pain of the people, this horror.

"Where were you these 8 years?".
How has this time passed for you, what changed in your life since the events of 2014?
What has influenced you the most during this time?
Please write in detail.

Therefore, in 2015, I had two goals: to escape from the destroyed city and to become a real artist. I entered a request in Google: the best art academies of the country. That's how I learned about the Lviv Academy of Arts. When I saw this name, nothing could stop me anymore.

Neither "banders" and "cruel violence" against people, nor the high passing scores and taking exams in the subjects that were my weakest - the Ukrainian language and the history of Ukraine. The words of the art school teachers: "Don't even try, you won't make it... Every place is bought there...", and the cries of relatives: "They will destroy you there... How will you live with such a profession?"

I got accepted. The first in the rating. Despite the bullying and those who did not believe in me. And I didn't say a single word in Ukrainian. After that, I lived there for 6 years, and with my Donetsk past, I felt privileged and not an outcast there.

I had several exhibitions in Lviv. I gave lectures to 500 people. Prepared them for admission and improved the qualifications of artists. And all in russian! Not because I'm against it, but because this way I can say more, and everyone understands me.

But my grandmother from Donetsk still calls me and says: "At least speak Ukrainian there, otherwise you will be insulted there…” How strong TV disinformation is...

Then I had a difficult period. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I went in search of myself. My legs were failing me. With the help of immersion in spirituality, I managed to heal myself. Then my path lay to the Carpathians - closer to nature, solitude and spirituality.

I worked online for a year — teaching psychology and anatomy of painting, digital painting, etc. at international universities and schools. A thin thread in all my courses was personal development through art, finding and expressing a real you.

Throughout my life, lost people gathered around me who needed a bright path. I loved igniting others and being a part of that process. Help them be happy. I liked to see eyes lighting up.

Did I finally feel ground under me? Am I finally doing MY own thing?

Having gained a powerful experience, I left many schools and created my project for artists. I don't teach drawing there, but I teach to reveal your own style, personal handwriting. This is a kind of artist therapy.

This is much more important than knowledge of anatomy. And the results are colossal. Artists begin to paint much better and with more taste, find their own way in it.

After immersing myself in the Carpathians, I went to Kyiv. My mother settled in the city of Boryspil after leaving that war.

What was February 24, 2022 for you like?
Did you believe that a full-scale offensive would begin?Where are you now? What do you do?

What do you think about your future now?

24.02. In Kiev. On my birthday. I was woken up at 5 in the morning with the words: "The war has begun." Memories are vague, in full haste and terror. Anxiety was overwhelming. 8 years ago in Donetsk, I woke up with this feeling every morning...

Fear was in the air. I hoped that I would not experience the horror of war yet again. That day I was visiting friends. I only had an iPad, a laptop and what I was wearing at the time.
We sat up close to the TV, the children cried from the explosions. There was no talk of any kind of celebration, obviously.

I tried to calm down as much as possible. By the evening, everyone was tired of running to the bunker. The night was very difficult, no one slept.
Shells were falling near the house, the walls were shaking. There were a huge number of horrorful reports in various cities. Many simply could not believe their eyes.

Our men decided to go as volunteers to the combat points. We understood that if they left, the house would definitely not be safe.

On the way to my house, a bridge was blown up, it was impossible to go and pick things up. We decided to take women and children and go to Zakarpattia. One of my friends, who was a renter, gave us a house for free for some time.

Instead of 10 hours, we drove from Kyiv for 24 hours without stopping. Talking to people at the gas station, we saw that most of them did not understand what was happening at all. A huge flow of cars, especially closer to the border. Traffic jams on routes 30 km long.

After three hours in a traffic jam, we decided to drive a couple of kilometers in the oncoming lane and get onto the unpaved road. We got lucky. We covered the rest of the route in half an hour.

Now we all live in one house, seven of us. Most stores do not accept non-cash payments. It is impossible to withdraw money even at cash registers. There is no water or internet, but we are together.

I did not leave Ukraine, but stayed close to the border. Those men who managed to leave before the general mobilization (now no one is being released) write to me that they are ashamed that they ran like rats.

I am also ashamed that I am safe. And I could at least deliver food... But... I still believe that everyone should do their own thing.

The war is going on several fronts. If everyone will be there, who will tell about it? Who will keep the memory? I am a person of art, and I will speak through my art. And I advise everyone to use their real skills, and not to go to war without any skills, to not become cannon fodder. Help with  what you can really do well.

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