The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Why this relatively new monument is special

Larysa Kurylas tries out a self-guided experience on Aug. 25 at the Victims of Communism Museum in D.C. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades for The Washington Post)

Philip Kennicott asserted in his Nov. 20 Arts & Style Critic’s Notebook column, “The Vietnam memorial blazed a path that no one followed,” that Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial was creative and groundbreaking. He pointed out that most monuments and memorials built in Washington since then have not met the standard set by Ms. Lin.

Opened in 2015, one relatively recent monument that shares the qualities that Mr. Kennicott values in the Vietnam Memorial is the Holodomor Memorial near Union Station. Dedicated to the victims of the 1932-1933 Holodomor genocide in Ukraine, the memorial is also simple, contemplative and minimalistic, and, for that reason, forces the visitor into an emotional state. The viewer sees a long bronze panel of wheat that gradually recedes and disappears into negative space, representing how food was removed from Ukrainian Holodomor victims during the deliberate famine imposed by Stalin on Ukrainians. Its design succeeds in simply and effectively conveying the difficult concept of famine to the visitor.

It is particularly timely to bring attention to this memorial now, as Russia continues its genocide against the Ukrainian nation and is deliberately interfering with the world supply of wheat. The designer of the Holodomor Memorial, Larysa Kurylas, joins Ms. Lin as one of only three women to have designed memorials in D.C.

Halyna Breslawec, Potomac

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