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Elizabeth Neftin_The Dove Must Break Free-1.png

Elizabeth Neftin

“The Dove Must Break Free”

Artist Statement

My work includes a repeated motif of the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag, with the woman or the "dove – bird of peace" being the subject matter. The salutation "Slava Ukraini", translating as "Glory to Ukraine", is plastered to the front of the woman's dress. The dress is made from the traditional Ukrainian lace, meant to evoke a child's style of writing/drawing to bring to the foreground the great suffering of innocent children in the war against Ukraine. I focused on precisely the eyes and lips to accentuate the woman's pain, leaving the rest of the face blank. I did this so the viewer could imagine the faces of all Ukrainians, displaced, hurt, lost, and trapped in the war-torn zones, which I represented by curtains of tattered lace and walls of stained war images. 


I constructed part of my work from torn newspaper articles concerning the war, which I crumpled to create a textured background glued on a blank canvas. The other materials I have used are bits of lace, blue and yellow feathers, brown drawing paper, ribbon, graphite pencils, white charcoal pencils, and watercolors. I utilized packing tape to build layers of feathers on top of paper backing to create the wings.


The war Russia is waging against Ukraine inspired my artwork. I showed the distress experienced by the people of Ukraine through the chaos of my work. Bits of torn newspaper, haphazardly scattered on the canvas as if in anger, also convey the frustration and fragility of the people, as the pieces look as if they are about to fall away. 


My goal was to create a piece that unsettles the viewer and truly conveys the impact of the war in Ukraine. However, I aslo wanted to show how hopeful and resilient the people of Ukraine are, despite the unimaginable horrors they are currently experiencing.


In creating this artwork, I learned how to transfer my emotions to the appearance of the media I use. The piece turned out how I imagined it would. I wanted my artwork to embody the feelings of disbelief, chaos, loss, pain, and despair and express hope for peace soon. This piece will positively influence my future artwork because it afforded me a unique oportunity to manipulate various new mediums to express my emotions and hopefully evoke a similar emotional response in the viewer. 


Overall, receiving this microgrant has enriched me as an artist and a student because it gave me the incentive to spend my spare time doing something I genuinely love, composing visual art. Completing this piece was very therapeutic and ingrained in me values that are also important to have as a student in Stuyvesant, such as patience, dedication, and attention to detail.

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