AUSTIN (KXAN) — For 16 years, Austin artist Anna Ganina called Ukraine home. Born in Odessa, she and her family immigrated to Canada before she eventually settled in Central Texas.
As Russia has continued its attack on Ukraine, she said she has been stunned by the resilience of her people — a small country that has rallied support on the global stage virtually overnight. Now, she’s using her artistry to give back, one custom portrait at a time.
For the month of March, Ganina will be donating all the proceeds she raises through custom portraits to individuals in Ukraine. So far, she’s received a half a dozen portrait requests for $300 each.
“The attention that Ukraine is getting is just, I never thought that something like that would happen,” she said. “And talking to my friends in Ukraine, seeing how they’re handling it, it just — I don’t know, just that kind of courage and kindness and love that’s everywhere, it’s contagious and it got to me.”
As she’s spoken to her friends and loved ones back in Ukraine, she’s noted the way they’ve dealt with this with both humor and courage. One friend, who lives with her child in a high-rise building, joked about how fit she’s getting, running up and down nine flights of stairs with her kid each time the emergency sirens go off.
Another friend, a banker, is serving along the border in Kyiv next to a veterinarian — neither of who have any form of military training. One man she follows is making continuous food and water trips to bomb shelters to distribute supplies to those in need.
With her donations, Ganina said she wants to establish it as a pay it forward process, where she distributes a certain amount of money to one person, who then picks the next person to receive funds, and then that continues down the line. Those interested in a custom portrait can message her on her professional Instagram for more information.
She also recommended the organization “Monster Corporation” as a donation resource, as it provides medical care and humanitarian aid to those in need.
“This war really united everybody in Ukraine, despite their religious or political beliefs,” she said. “Right now, all of them are helping each other and now the world is also united to help Ukraine. So it’s amazing what’s going on right now.”