Art in War – Alex Parfenov – Ep 24
April 6, 2022
ON TODAY’S EPISODE
What do we need in our lives to persevere on our creative path? How do we keep going, and is it ever okay to stop? In the grand scheme of things, how crucial is our art anyway? We might not ask these questions under normal circumstances. But when big, unexpected changes occur in your life, these questions (as well as their answers) can surface.
Alex Parfenov is a brilliant videographer. For several years he’s been working with me and my team creating videos that tell inspirational stories of artists from all over the world. He also happens to live in Ukraine. The recent and ongoing invasion of his country has completely changed his life. Like so many Ukrainians, Alex has recently relocated and was still somehow able to find an internet connection.
He shares with us the impact these recent events have had on him, his family, and his friends, as well as the clarity he’s gained about the purpose, need, and ongoing viability of creativity in one’s life. The calm vulnerability and steady resolve of Alex’s voice moved me greatly, and it’s a privilege to share this extraordinary conversation with you.
Listen if you are interested in…
- Alex recounts his experience of the Russian invasion of Ukraine [2:30]
- The courage and beauty of the Ukrainian people in the face of adversity [7:50]
- Using creativity to navigate unimaginable tragedy [13:43]
- Ukrainian resilience and more stories from the war [23:05]
- How Alex is helping his children process the war [28:41]
- The invasion’s impact on Alex as an artist [31:57]
- How the world is helping Ukraine and looking towards the country’s future [36:23]
Suddenly the world came crashing down
On the evening of February 24th, 2022, Alex Parfenov’s life drastically changed as Russian rockets bombarded the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Alex, his wife, and their two young daughters were able to temporarily escape just outside of the city until the violence reached there as well. Constant sirens and continued aggression forced them to flee into Western Ukraine near Poland. The trauma from these events was so intense that it took him a week to even begin feeling some sense of normalcy in his body. In the first days after finally leaving Kyiv, Alex couldn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep, and his mind was constantly flooded with anxious thoughts about the safety of everyone he loves. Especially his children. Alex went from being an artist and videographer to enlisting in the Ukrainian army to fend off a Russian invasion in a matter of two weeks. It’s impossible to fathom walking a moment in his shoes, let alone a mile.
United as one
One of the most awe-inspiring things about everything happening in Ukraine right now is the courage, strength, and beauty of its people. The longer this conflict goes on the more we hear stories that celebrate the human spirit and restore our faith in humanity. From fighters, fundraisers, and everyone in between, Alex notes that the whole nation is united like never before and every Ukrainian is a warrior whether they’re on the battlefield or not. I even saw that composer Hans Zimmer stopped a recent concert to honor a Ukrainian pianist who, in an act of defiance, played Zimmer’s theme to the movie Inception during the initial Russian air raid…incredible. Even in the midst of horrifying tragedy, Alex has never been prouder of his country and his people.
Finding light in the darkness
By nature, artists are incredibly sensitive people. It’s often easier for us to live in a world of our own creation than be confronted by some of life’s painful realities. But what happens when that pain becomes so visceral that escape is not an option? This is Alex Parfenov’s wartorn reality. He doesn’t have the luxury of taking a mental vacation when his survival and the survival of his family are at stake. But as Alex elaborated, he’s noticed a shift within himself from being in survival mode this long. Creativity has always been a spring that he could use to bounce back when faced with hard times. As the initial shock from the last few week’s events wears off, Alex feels all of the pent-up anger winding itself into a powerful spring about to explode with creativity. He’s finally allowing himself to ask how his art can be a light in this present darkness and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to experience the answer. Listen to this episode for more of Alex’s story and his experience in Russian-occupied Ukraine. To learn how you can help the people of Ukraine, please visit the links below!
Resources & Ways to Help Ukraine
- See what’s happening in Ukraine
- National Bank of Ukraine – Fundraising Account for Humanitarian Assistance to Ukrainians
- Donate to World Central Kitchen and help provide fresh meals to Ukrainian families in need
Connect with Alex Parfenov
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alex.parfenov/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/parfenov.alexander
- Alex’s Highlight Reel: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1L91ZkSyUnxjOO-GDMbSiICjHpgxmthjD/view?usp=sharing
- Alex’s other work: https://vimeo.com/sptvstudio
Connect with Nicholas Wilton
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With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.
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