Faces of Change

IMG_7370There are few galleries in Moldova where young artists can show their work. This weekend, though, more than 20 of them are taking part in an exhibit inside an old museum, featuring more than 100 portraits ranging from painting to caricature.

IMG_7406Lucia Codreanu and Maks Graur, both young artists themselves, organized and curated the free show in downtown Chișinău, running through Sunday afternoon. You can see some of the work here.

Lucia, who just graduated from high school and will soon begin studying art at a university in Romania, is amazing. She’s already assembled an impressive portfolio that includes my own favorites, her whimsical Moldovan reinterpretations of famous paintings.

I came to know Lucia well during last year’s Diamond Challenge competition that encourages entrepreneurship among young Moldovans. She was one of the three high school students on the team I mentored, which ended up placing second nationally in the business category. It was a joy to work with her and the other two students. Lucia was the designer for their project to create a personalized children’s book, which she showed in this video clip:

I encouraged one of that competition’s judges, an American who runs a web development company here, to give her a look. He loved her work, hired her and says she did a great job working part-time on web projects while finishing her final year of high school.

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Lucia’s partner in this weekend’s “Faces” exhibit is also impressive. Maks Graur, who you see with Lucia in the gallery here, has been studying art in England. He recently completed a Draw for Dogs project in which he drew portraits for people who donated to charities that assist stray dogs.

When Champa and I visited on Saturday morning, Lucia told me the question she and Maks have been asked most often is why they organized the show for free. Volunteering, at least as we know it in America, is not a strong tradition in Moldova, which is why people here often have a hard time understanding why Peace Corps Volunteers would leave their homes to serve others.

Young people like Lucia give me hope that things can change. Surrounded by the portraits she and Maks pulled together, she looked to me on Saturday like the face of Moldova’s future.

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3 thoughts on “Faces of Change”

  1. I was intrigued by your statement “Volunteering, at least as we know it in America, is not a strong tradition in Moldova, which is why people here often have a hard time understanding why Peace Corps Volunteers would leave their homes to serve others.” The NC RPCV book group recently read and discussed The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. One of the themes in the book is that volunteering is generally associated with increased happiness. Moldova is one of the countries featured in the book.

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    1. Hi Ruth. So nice to hear from a fellow member of the NC RPCV group! Thanks for highlighting the volunteer issue. I hope to focus on it more in a future post. Eric Weiner’s depiction of Moldova is pretty tough but it’s useful in raising good questions about why so many people here are cynical about their futures. I think volunteerism springs from a place of optimism, which can sometimes be hard to find in Moldova. Yet, simultaneously, there are many wonderful people and many reasons for hope, as Lucia and Maks illustrate. Champa and I look forward to joining you all again in a year!

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