Propaganda can kill, and one famous example is the story of The New York Times reporter Walter Duranty who, in 1931, regurgitated Communist propaganda into a series of 13 articles about Joseph Stalin's rule over the Soviet Union and, in doing so, winning the 1932 Pulitzer Prize. While a misinformed America slept, Stalin forced individual farmers to work on collective farms and fulfill impossible government quotas. Unable to consume their own grain, a 1932-33 famine in Ukraine resulted in the starvation and death of almost seven million persons.
Photo by Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak "Will the Grass Grow Over It?" by Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak
This is a very personal story for artist Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak, whose parents escaped the famine, and who understands the dangers of complacency. Her paintings, drawings and collages, which incorporate objects and materials brought back from her ancestral home interspersed with newspaper clippings and photographs, are a graphic cry for help. On display now at Hunter Gather Project, her work draws attention to the current crisis in Ukraine, with Russia not honoring the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, breaking its promise to respect the existing borders of Ukraine.