The art works on exhibit are produced by 9- to 17-year-old students from the Republican College of Art in Minsk, Belarus. Students are chosen to attend this prestigious school for the caliber of their art and by rigorous exams. They must reapply each year to continue in the school.
Studies encompass media arts, including sculpture, and the performance arts. Approximately 500 students from all over Belarus attend the school. All the works included in the show were completed at the Republican College. Extensive vetting is required for these works to leave Belarus, and the CCP of Greater Chattanooga is the only U.S. entity allowed to import from this school.
It is interesting to note that student identification is noted on the back of the works. While they are students, they are not allowed to sign their works on the front.
Originally, orphans and children from Belarus who were impacted by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 28 years ago were brought to the states to visit. The Chattanooga group was formed in 1992 to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the Belarusian children through these visits. CCP began to bring in art in 1993, in concert with a similar program in Petaluma, Calif. However, a defection while the group was in California in 2008 ended the ability to bring children to the U.S.
In 2008, the Belarusian government prohibited relief trips for children. However, the CCP of Greater Chattanooga maintained their relationship by sponsoring a summer camp in Belarus, and by hosting a Christmas celebration for Belarusian orphans. They work with the Minsk Family Home for young women and the Timothy House for young men.
This summer, a combined choir from Lookout Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga will travel to Belarus and perform at Camp Nadezhda (Hope) for an audience of 500. MACC Director Barb Storm plans to accompany them for this event.