New exhibition in Minneapolis shows photos from the war in Ukraine

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Images of war, brought home to Minnesota.

“There’s a lot of people dying, and it’s not just soldiers — and it’s really sad,” declares photojournalist Jenn Blatty. “It’s so easy to close off, when all you see is something far away.”

Blatty, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now a photojournalist, documenting the war in Ukraine.

“As with any war, you see the smoke, the shelling happening, ‘cos they’re still bombing in different places,” she says. “There’s still a school getting bombed less than a kilometer from where you’re sleeping. Everything is a front line.”

Blatty’s photos are among those on display at the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis.

An exhibit of 41 images called “Ukraine: War and Resistance.”  

“For Ukrainians, it’s a daily scene, they see the pictures every day when they go outside,” notes Roman Tyshchenko, a University of Minnesota grad student, who arrived in Minnesota from Ukraine last summer.

He’s coordinating the exhibition, which includes images from seven participating Fulbright Scholars.

“I was lucky to escape most of the violence, but definitely for most of my friends in eastern Ukraine and the cities bombed by the Russians, that’s everyday life,” Tyshchenko says. “We decided it would be important to show it to Americans to help them understand what’s happening in Ukraine.”

For the most part, the photos are not graphic images of the war.

Instead, they show soldiers on patrol, doing maneuvers, being treated for wounds.

There are also scenescapes of quiet between battles.

“I’m basically showing what’s going on in my country,” says Serhii Konovayny, a freelance photographer from the Donetsk Region — now under Russian control. “Things are pretty brutal and tragic by themselves.”

He hopes his photos will be a wake-up call to Minnesotans.

“I want to try to make this bridge, this connection to the people of the American Midwest, far from the war,” Konovayny explains. “To connect to our experience.”

Blatty, who’s been in Ukraine since 2018 — and now calls that country home — fears Americans are being desensitized by images like drone video on the news.

“I think there is a lot of attention that is not coming to what is really happening to the soldiers and how many people are actually dying right now,” she says. “That’s reality.”

The photos in the exhibition are mostly up close and personal — human beings caught up in the turmoil of war.

Some date back to 2014, when Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

But others are more recent.

The exhibition is sponsored by Fulbright Ukraine and the Fulbright Association, Minnesota Chapter — the first time these photos have been displayed in the U.S.

The exhibition is free and runs through May 14.

“This war is a big mess,” Konovayny exclaims. “This war is a big problem for the whole world and I just want my pictures to be a tiny step in overcoming it.”