Recently, this work has taken an informal biographical bent--I say informal because the research, such as it is, cannot be properly sourced via Internet avenues only at this time, and it is not the time to travel to Ukraine to search for letters or surviving in print resources, even if that was a possibility. But here--the beautiful Anna Gorobievskaya.
Looking at the Soviet Era images of innocent childhood and expressive fantasy that were so widely printed, traded, collected and sent, in a time when people still communicated over distance via the written word because long distance phone calls were too expensive, it is all too easy to forget the circumstances under which these were produced. Not only was the content strictly regulated. But the artists were, too.
Some took cover in works employing irony and in the (somewhat) safer terrain of children’s literature. By seeding children’s literature with values counter to those practiced by Soviet officialdom, selected writers and artists spread counter-values to a new generation. They worked with the guile of the fox, the flight of the firebird, and, perhaps, the recklessness of the Fool. By keeping alive Russian stories of wise Fools, sentient animals, and magical powers, their creators carried forward folkloric traditions barred from the reigning Socialist Realism. In doing so, they protected limited public space for artistic innovation.
When the Nazis invaded in the 1942, Anna, her mother, and grandmother, were transported to Hungary "for work," where Anna, just 11 years old, picked up the language quickly and worked as a translator. When the Soviets moved in in 1944, Anna, with her family members, were able to return to Kyiv. Following in her mother's footsteps, she trained to be a painter.
Her work is notable for her depictions minority children (Ukrainians included) in their traditional dress, whether Tatar sheepskin coats or Chuchki leathers, simultaneously light-hearted and serious, as children can so often be. She also drew repeated versions of Snihuronka, the winter snow maiden, in whom regular readers of this blog might remember, I have particular interest.
The Snow Maiden is the figure in Rus folklore who helps the little birds and animals survive through the winter--birds like the bullfinch, the bright, red-breasted spark of life that appears among the frozen branches to remind us all that, despite the season of Winter's rule, something else remains.
In the last update I could find, written by her son, Anna was still living in the three bedroom apartment she had been assigned back in the 1950s, along with her son and his family. She was largely blind and, in the I assume poorly translated description I found, "tethered to her bed,"
Is she still alive? Is she still living in Kyiv, as Russians, and Russian artillary, advance?