Ukraine aid work inspires Lewes exhibition

Journey to Ukraine from Raegan Hodge is the latest exhibition at the Star Brewery Gallery in Lewes, running from May 4-12.
Raegan Hodge (contributed pic)Raegan Hodge (contributed pic)
Raegan Hodge (contributed pic)

Raegan explains: “The show Journey to Ukraine is a collection of drawings and paintings based on my experience as a humanitarian aid worker on the border of Ukraine during the first year of the war. The work includes a video installation, depicting the scenes and feelings of the 22-hour overnight train journey returning with my friend Daria to visit her grandmother in Ukraine.

“Since Russia attacked Ukraine in 2022, millions of Ukrainians have fled their homes. For many, the journey was arduous and traumatic. Mostly women and children, over one million refugees settled in Poland needing accommodation and aid. As a communications officer stationed in Poland in response to the crisis, it was part of my job to document the border crossing and humanitarian needs of refugees. The pieces in this show depict my emotional journey leading up to and during my time in Poland and Ukraine. The show begins with some of my first visual explorations of grief pieces specifically after the loss of my niece to childhood cancer. The show features portraits of refugees, oil paintings of scenes from Ukrainian train journeys and pictorial lessons in the Ukrainian language.”

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Raegan added: “I am American, originally from Atlanta, Georgia, living abroad for the past six years. I am a new resident of Sussex. I have a BA in history (2000, University of Georgia) and an MFA in digital filmmaking and arts (2008, Georgia State University).

“I have been painting since I was 14, receiving many awards in school in my early 20s. However due to lack of opportunities in the Atlanta area, I shifted to the film and television industry. I worked on many TV shows from Emmy-winning travel documentaries to the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Beginning with an assignment in Afghanistan in 2011, I have served as a communications officer for CARE, UNICEF and the Dr Denis Mukwege Foundation covering many issues from debilitating hunger in Niger to workers' rights in Bangladesh to disabled kids in India. I have seen thoughtful and well-executed programmes and others that were disorganised, poorly run and ultimately destructive to the communities.”

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